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  • 1. A CVFRT Research Project Transition Town Presentation March 26, 2014 Opportunities to Increase Farming Production Capacity in the Comox Valley
  • 2. Agenda: •Introductions •Initial Findings from Interviews •Opportunities •Recommendations •Closing and Next Steps
  • 3. Introduction • Andrea Lawseth, AEL Agroecological Consulting • Moss Dance, Ripple Farm/Merville Organics & Rainbow Raven Web Design Specific related project experience: • Regional District of North Okanagan AAP • Lillooet and Area B AAP, SLRD • Regional District of Nanaimo AAP • Denman Island Farm Plan, Islands Trust • Colony Farm Plan, Metro Vancouver • Agricultural Land Use Inventories (various) • Certified Organic expertise (various avenues)
  • 4. Research Project Methodology Project Start‐Up (Nov) Interviews (Dec-Feb) Focus Group Session (Feb 13) Analysis and Final Report (Mar - Apr)
  • 5. Methodology • Interviewed in person: • 14 Landowners • 11 Potential farmers • Online survey: • 18 Landowners • 13 Potential farmers • Total: • 32 Landowners • 24 Potential farmers
  • 6. Initial Results LANDOWNERS
  • 7. Would you consider sharing land with other farmers to increase food production on your farm? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 66.7% 18 No 14.8% 4 Not sure 18.5% 5 Total Responses 27
  • 8. What farm products do you produce? Response Chart Percentage Count Livestock/meat 50.0% 7 Dairy (cattle/sheep/goat) 7.1% 1 Poultry/eggs 57.1% 8 Greenhouse vegetable/fruit production 7.1% 1 Field vegetable production 42.9% 6 Berries 50.0% 7 Tree fruit/nuts 21.4% 3 Staple crops (grains, pulses, edible seeds) 14.3% 2 Value-added 7.1% 1 Specialty crops 42.9% 6 Mushroom production 7.1% 1 Seeds 14.3% 2 Other, please specify... 64.3% 9 Total Responses 14
  • 9. Where do you sell your farm products? Response Chart Percentage Count Comox Valley Farmers' Market 45.5% 5 Pier Street Market 0.0% 0 Other farmers market: 9.1% 1 Restaurants 45.5% 5 Retail 27.3% 3 CSA 9.1% 1 Farm stand or farm gate sales 45.5% 5 Other, please specify... 54.5% 6 Total Responses 11
  • 10. • Chicken • Eggs • Honey • Berries (Cranberries, strawberries, blueberries) • Apples • Pickling cucumbers • Some vegetables (patty pan squash, beans, peas) • Yes, for more of the same • Yes, for other meat products (turkey, beef) • Yes, eggs • Organic milk What is easiest to sell? Is there a demand you can’t meet?
  • 11. Do you use organic methods? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes - certified 21.4% 3 Yes - but not certified 71.4% 10 No 7.1% 1 Other practices (i.e. biodynamic). Please specify: 14.3% 2 Total Responses 14
  • 12. Do you have an off-farm job? If yes, what is your primary motivation for maintaining a second job? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 57.1% 8 No 42.9% 6 Total Responses 14 Response Chart Percentage Count Financial necessity 88.9% 8 Personal satisfaction 22.2% 2 Other, please specify... 11.1% 1 Total Responses 9
  • 13. Would you like to produce more food on your farm? What is your vision for the farm? • Destination farm – agritourism • Selling the farm to another farmer – would like to see it remain a farm • Would like to bring on business partners to share the workload Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 78.6% 11 No 21.4% 3 Total Responses 14
  • 14. What are the barriers to growing more food? Response Chart Percentage Count Need equipment/machinery 20.0% 2 Not enough land 0.0% 0 Capital costs 40.0% 4 Challenges in accessing more labour (employees or volunteers) 0.0% 0 Access to customer base 0.0% 0 Inadequate storage options 0.0% 0 Lack of distribution channels 0.0% 0 Lack of access to processing equipment/facility 20.0% 2 Other, please specify... 60.0% 6 Total Responses 10
  • 15. What is your succession plan? Response Chart Percentage Count Passing it on to children 37.5% 3 Establishing a farm cooperative 25.0% 2 Selling it to another farmer 25.0% 2 Attempting to have the farm subdivided and/or rezoned 0.0% 0 Other, please specify... 37.5% 3 Total Responses 8
  • 16. What are the top three things preventing you from leasing or offering land to other farmers: Response Chart Percentage Count Don't know where to look for people 57.1% 8 Fencing 28.6% 4 Lack of available water 28.6% 4 Potential costs 0.0% 0 Lack of knowledge about lease agreements 14.3% 2 Privacy concerns 21.4% 3 Concerned about land use conflicts 21.4% 3 Other, please specify... 35.7% 5 Total Responses 14
  • 17. What are the challenges? • Shared goals and values of land – respect (7) • Lack of adequate water/irrigation (3) • No housing on site (3) • Liability issues (3) • Fencing needs to be repaired (2) • Managing risk for both sides – who invests in infrastructure? (2) • Privacy concerns (2) • Dogs on site (1) • Making access to property easily (1) • Traffic concerns and nuisance complaints from neighbours (1) • Safety concerns – equipment operation (1)
  • 18. What are the benefits? • Financial benefits – leasing income • Shared workload • Shared knowledge • Allowing people to use the land – seeing the land being used • Land is getting taken care of – resale value/aesthetics • Someone sharing the dream and the experience • Unintended consequences of trying something new
  • 19. Initial Results POTENTIAL FARMERS
  • 20. What are the three main reasons you are interested in farming? Other: • Interested in producing food for the community • Self-sufficiency • Activism • Passionate about food • Want to be own boss Response Chart Percentage Count Food security 56.2% 9 Sustainability 62.5% 10 Health 25.0% 4 Lifestyle 68.8% 11 Other, please specify... 62.5% 10 Total Responses 16
  • 21. Do you have any of the following training or experience in agriculture? Response Chart Percentage Count Grew up on a farm 33.3% 5 College certificate 6.7% 1 University degree 13.3% 2 Some college or university courses 6.7% 1 Permaculture Design Course 13.3% 2 SOIL apprenticeship 20.0% 3 WWOOF volunteer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) 33.3% 5 Informal on-farm learning/volunteering 26.7% 4 4H Programs 6.7% 1 Other, please specify... 60.0% 9 Total Responses 15
  • 22. Are you looking to farm in the Comox Valley over the long term? Why the Valley? • Live here already – it’s home • Feel supported and welcomed here • Quality of farmland is good • Good off-farm activities • Growing demand for local food here • Distribution of land is good for small scale growers • Good climate Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 78.6% 11 No 21.4% 3 Total Responses 14
  • 23. Are you currently farming or planning to farm: Response Chart Percentage Count Solo 13.3% 2 With family members 13.3% 2 With a business partner 13.3% 2 With a life partner or spouse 46.7% 7 Other, please specify... 53.3% 8 Total Responses 15
  • 24. What type of farming are you doing/hoping to do? Response Chart Percentage Count Livestock/meat 40.0% 6 Dairy (cattle/sheep/goat) 13.3% 2 Poultry/eggs 73.3% 11 Greenhouse vegetable/fruit production 80.0% 12 Field vegetable production 86.7% 13 Berries 60.0% 9 Tree fruit/nuts 60.0% 9 Staple crops (grains, pulses, edible seeds) 46.7% 7 Value-added 46.7% 7 Specialty crops 46.7% 7 Nursery 40.0% 6 Mushroom production 40.0% 6 Seeds 66.7% 10 Other, please specify... 20.0% 3 Total Responses 15
  • 25. How will you finance your farm as you get started? Response Chart Percentage Count Financing from a credit union of bank 28.6% 4 Government programs 21.4% 3 Farm Credit Canada 14.3% 2 Family 7.1% 1 Off-farm work 71.4% 10 Grants 28.6% 4 Crowd-sourcing funds and equipment 7.1% 1 Other, please specify... 42.9% 6 Total Responses 14
  • 26. If you are currently farming, do you have an off- farm job? What is your primary motivation for maintaining a second job? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 63.6% 7 No 36.4% 4 Total Responses 11 Response Chart Percentage Count Financial necessity 75.0% 9 Personal satisfaction 41.7% 5 Other, please specify... 25.0% 3 Total Responses 12
  • 27. Are you leasing land? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 37.5% 3 No 62.5% 5 Total Responses 8 Are you currently looking for land to purchase? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 50.0% 3 No 50.0% 3 Total Responses 6
  • 28. Is it important to you to live on the land you are farming? Response Chart Percentage Count Yes 92.3% 12 No 0.0% 0 Somewhat 15.4% 2 Total Responses 13
  • 29. What are the three biggest challenges you face as a new farmer? Response Chart Percentage Count Lack of capital 71.4% 10 Need more access to credit or financing 14.3% 2 Inability to lease land 35.7% 5 Lack of arable or appropriate farm land 7.1% 1 Cost of land (for purchase) 64.3% 9 Inability to access capital (loans or grants) 7.1% 1 Difficulty negotiating agreements (i.e. leases) 21.4% 3 Agriculture is not profitable enough to meet income needs 28.6% 4 Other, please specify... 64.3% 9 Total Responses 14
  • 30. Other challenges? • Marketing skills – gaining confidence to sell products (2) • Work-Life balance – being organized (2) • Business skills (1) • Accessing affordable AND arable land (1) • Land use conflicts with multiple owners (1) • Finding good people to work with (1) • Local zoning and agricultural production • Possibilities for multiple ownership of the land • Cooperative structures • Multiple farm dwellings on one farm site • ALR restrictions and regulations
  • 31. What are the challenges to leasing? • Maintaining a respectful relationship (3) • Transportation – when not living on site (2) • Caring for tools and land to the degree that is required (2) • Getting a concrete long-term agreement (1) • Investment in infrastructure (1)
  • 32. What are the benefits to leasing? • Financial reasons (4) • Infrastructure is usually already in place (3) • Soil has already been worked (2) • Can access great land (2) • Can be great to work with others and gain knowledge (1)
  • 33. Opportunities Already Present • Tremendous agricultural potential in the Valley: • Access to water • Food prices increasing due to drought elsewhere • Growing local market opportunity • Desire to support one another and work cooperatively: • Pooling resources to get better quality and prices on inputs • Developing a buying club - purchasing inputs • Creating opportunities for work bees - share the workload • Developing a web-based tool share database
  • 34. Recommendations •Education: • Landowners: • WCB, liability, insurance 101 for landowners • Farm succession planning • New farmers: • Business planning and financial management for small farms • Marketing • “Farming 101 series”: basic info on seed-starting, value-added processing, animal husbandry • Choosing the best crops to grow on your land • Collective marketing models (from informal arrangements to co- operatives) • Both landowners and new farmers: • Forming effective lease agreements • Alternative land ownership models
  • 35. Recommendations • Support for Farmer Collaboration: • Offer Land-Linking events • Form a Tool Lending Library (medium-small scale) • Develop an Agricultural Asset Map (in process) • Create, or centralize listing of resource directories available to farmers • Create a resource library • Create opportunities for farmers to gather and network informally
  • 36. Recommendations • Increase New Farmer Participation in Existing Ag Organizations: • Farmers’ Institute: • Introduce 2 young farmer representatives at the board of directors • Explore expanding the FI tool library to include small scale machinery and hand tools
  • 37. Potential Ag Sites in the City Boundaries
  • 38. Next Steps: • Complete final report by April 15th • Distribute report • Share report with policy makers • Secure further funding • Implementation of recommendations
  • 39. Thank-you! Andrea Lawseth 250-205-0279 info@aelagroconsulting.com Moss Dance 250-702-0980 moss@rainbowraven.ca