B.C. Land Matching Program reaches new milestone

Posted by Michalina Hunter on April 13, 2022

b.c. land matching program

News Release: Courtenay, B.C. – Wednesday, April 13, 2022 9:15 AM

The B.C. Land Matching Program (BCLMP) delivered by Young Agrarians has achieved more than 200 matches, bringing farmers and landholders together to strengthen the province’s food supply.

“Congratulations to all the farmers and landholders who are a part of this amazing milestone for the B.C. Land Matching Program, and thank you for providing fresh, nutritious food for our communities,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “Through this program, we are building resilient local food systems by putting more land back into production while also reducing barriers for new and young farmers so we can ensure a bright future for farming in B.C.”

Popham went to Pendleton Farm in the Comox Valley to celebrate the program’s achievements and its contribution to supporting local food security and B.C.’s growing food economy.

Local farmer Sarah Wilson is the operator of Pendleton Farm, a rotational vegetable market garden on 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres) of farmland in Merville in the Comox Valley. She was supported by a BCLMP land matcher to help develop her lease agreement with the landholders. Pendleton Farm’s produce is available through a community-supported agriculture program where people can buy fresh produce from the farm, at the on-site farm stand or the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, and is also featured at local restaurants.

“As a new farmer starting a business, I didn’t have access to capital for purchasing land and I was lucky to connect with the landholders I now lease the property Pendleton Farm is on,” Wilson said. “Young Agrarians and the B.C. Land Matching Program provided us with professional knowledge and support as we negotiated the lease, and both the property owners and I were made much more comfortable by having these resources, which help people get off to the right start when navigating all the hurdles of farming.”

The BCLMP is delivered by Young Agrarians and offers personalized and regionally based support and services from the program’s five land matchers.

“Affordable access to land is the number one barrier that new and young farmers need to overcome today to start farms,” said Sara Dent, executive director, Young Agrarians. “We are thrilled to see the positive impact the BCLMP is having to support farmers to get on land and grow food. With an aging farming population and the number of farms declining annually, it is important that we invest now to ensure the next generation of farmers have the best chance possible to grow resilient future food systems for our communities.”

The BCLMP is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Grow BC initiative that supports young farmers and food producers seeking a career in agriculture. It addresses major challenges for new farmers, such as gaining access to land. The program is part of the Province’s New Entrants Agricultural Strategy, which looks to increase the number of new and young farmers working in B.C.’s agriculture sector.

Quick Facts:

  • The B.C. government is investing $390,000 into the BCLMP for 2022-23, for a total of approximately $1.8 million since 2018.
  • The total number of matches (203) made on approximately 3,686 hectares (9,108 acres) in regions throughout B.C. include:
    • Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley: 51 matches on 71 hectares (175 acres)
    • Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands: 59 matches on 54 hectares (133 acres)
    • Okanagan-Thompson: 53 matches on 1,782 hectares (4,403 acres)
    • Columbia Basin: 20 matches on 35 hectares (86 acres)
    • Central and northern B.C.: 20 matches on 1,744 hectares (4,309 acres)
  • Matches range in size from less than 0.4 hectares to thousands of hectares of farmland.

Learn more about the B.C. Land Matching Program here.


Backgrounders

Farmers making connections through B.C. Land Matching Program

The B.C. Land Matching Program (BCLMP) is bringing innovative solutions and supportive services to new, young and experienced farmers in the province looking for land. Dedicated land matchers for the Okanagan, Metro Vancouver-Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, Columbia Basin, and Central and Northern B.C. have helped facilitate 203 matches on 3,685.55 hectares (9,107.2 acres) through the program. These are some of their stories:

In Dawson Creek, near Pouce Coupe, a farming couple with 65 hectares (160 acres) was moving into retirement and wanted to provide an opportunity for the next generation of farmers to take over. They were matched to Kolby Peterson, a young woman from the Peace Region who was seeking mentorship in farming with horses. The BCLMP supported the development of a 10-year lease-to-own agreement with Peterson, which includes the farm’s existing cattle herd. Peterson is already in the early planning stages for new farm infrastructure projects and a market-garden business.

Outside Prince George, a ranching couple in Punchaw Lake with a 66-cow herd and 392 hectares (968.5 acres) was looking for the next generation of cattle producers to take over. They were matched to Ed Wiebe and Theresa Woods, who were seeking land to build their own ranch operation, Wiebe Livestock. With transition arrangement plans in the future, Wiebe Livestock is in a five-year term to graze the land and purchase the cattle, while integrating their own cattle and growing their existing herd size and operating capacity.

Farmer Eric Feehely of Silverstar Veggies was matched to 0.8 hectares (two acres) in Vernon and sells primarily to small grocery stores. The landholders are a young couple who are supportive of Feehely and are extending the length of his lease so his business will be secure over the course of his farming career.

Land seeker Mark Awan was looking for land to expand his dairy operation and was matched to a 7.9-hectare (19.51 acre) property in Langley that had previously been a dairy farm, complete with barns, a milking parlour and equipment. The retired farmer-landholder was thrilled to find a farmer who would continue the legacy of the property as a dairy farm and make use of the infrastructure on site.

In the West Kootenays, the Carr family has been farming in Krestova since 1978. In 2012, grandson Matt Carr started leasing land from his grandparents, establishing Linden Lane Farms. Now operating on 2.4 hectares (six acres) and growing, with a team of over 10 staff and family members, the business operates on the main farm property with leases on additional properties developed through the BCLMP of more than 0.8 hectares (two acres).

Katie Underwood started Peas and Carrots Farm, a mixed-vegetable operation, on one hectare (2.5 acres) of leased land in Saanich with the support of the BCLMP. Katie runs a vegetable box program and also sells at local farmers markets as well as her successful roadside stand at the farm. The landholders are thrilled to see their agricultural land brought into production and producing food for the local community.

Media Contacts

Dave Townsend

Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
250 356-7098
250 889-5945 (cell)

Darcy Smith

B.C. Land Matching Program Manager
Young Agrarians
land@youngagrarians.org

View the whole press release and backgrounder here.


The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Columbia Basin Trust, Bullitt Foundation, Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Real Estate Foundation of BC, and Patagonia.