Young Agrarians (YA) is the largest educational resource network for new and young ecological farmers in Canada. YA offers farmer-to-farmer programming to grow the next generation of food growers. YA programs work to create access to education, training, land, business mentorship, and resources. The long-term goal of YA is to increase the number of viable and ecological farmers in Canada.

Person raking soil at house for Young Agrarians

Why? Of the 1.7% of the Canadian population that farm, just 9% are 35 and younger, making up less than 25,000 farm operators (Stats Canada 2016). Cost of land and production are the biggest barriers to entering the sector. Since YA began in January 2012, the network of participating farmers and collaborating organizations has grown at the grassroots level coast-to-coast through farmers organizing and building community, representing over 13,000 participants at 300+ educational events. In 2020 we worked with approximately 1,400 farmers at all different stages of their journey info farming and starting farms. Currently, YA programs are focused on Western Canada from B.C. to Manitoba.

YA’s Grow-a-Farmer strategy in B.C. engages new, young and potential farmers through resources and opportunities online, brings them together to network and learn together on and off farms year-round, and when ready to start farms, supports them to access land and receive business supports and mentorship from a seasoned farmer.

In the Prairies, the program has grown online and through events, as well as an on-farm Apprenticeship Program in Regenerative Agriculture.

Garden Sharing

While Young Agrarians primarily focuses on farmers, we love to support growers of all shapes and sizes. After all — gardening can be a gateway to farming! As we are halfway through a calendar year heavily influenced by the pandemic, growing food for ourselves has become even more important. We’ve heard from many folks who want to grow a garden, but they don’t have the space. So in May of 2020 we added a “Garden Share” feature to our U-Map, to help aspiring growers and yard-owners connect.

Young Agrarians UMAP

The Young Agrarians U-Map is a one-stop crowd-sourced resource to help new farmers find everything from training and jobs, to business planning resources, to suppliers and market opportunities. And now people can also list their available outdoor space online, and interested local gardeners can get in touch.

The Garden Share feature is designed for home gardeners and homeowners with yards to connect with each other to share growing space. Sharing garden space can offer a number of benefits, such as a share of the produce, enjoying seeing the land producing food, reduced yard maintenance, and new friendships. For those without space, being able to garden on shared land can enhance food security, along with the community and mental health benefits of gardening.

For more details on adding a Garden Share listing to the U-Map, as well as tips and tricks for a thriving garden share, visit the Young Agrarians blog.

If you’re hoping to connect with other growers in your community, stay tuned for a Young Agrarians event near you. We’re gearing up for a summer of Land Socials all over B.C., and other events in the Prairies too. Farming and gardening is better together, and we look forward to helping to cultivate some more green thumb friendships!

Looking for more growing space than a backyard? The B.C. Land Matching Program provides personalized land matching and business support services to farmers looking for land to start or expand their farm, and landholders interested in finding someone to farm their land. So if you’re ready to level up from backyard gardening to growing food for your community at a larger scale, or if you have more than a quarter acre of growing space to offer a new farmer, reach out to a Land Matcher near you, and learn more on our website.

Young Agrarians, two people holding a bag of cover crop

Looking to Learn More About Young Agrarians Programs?

YA operates both online and offline programming to build the food and farm community:

Business Bootcamp - an online, community-based program to give new and prospective farmers the space and skills to write a stellar business plan to launch the farm of their dreams.

B.C. Land Matching Program - provides land matching and business support services to new farmers looking for land to farm, and landowners interested in finding someone to farm their land. Offers support developing leases and other land agreements.

B.C. Business Mentorship Network that pairs new farms in start-up with experienced mentors.

Prairies Apprenticeship Program - advanced, hands-on apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Event series - regular year-round events ranging from farm tours, webinars, potlucks, and small-scale farming workshops to two-day mixers and more.

Online Resources:

Farmer blog - our website features job and apprenticeship postings, farmer profiles, prospective land to farm, funding opportunities, and more.

U-MAP - a self-serve, crowd-sourced map that aggregates farm resources across Canada.

Online tools - business resources and downloadable tools, such as land lease and license templates and a BC Land Access Guide.

Social media channels - buzzing networks that share opportunities, experiences, and connect our network across the country. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Hashtag #youngagrarians and grow the network with us!

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, and Patagonia.

All photos by Sara Dent