Cultivating a new crop of farmers
Date published: 2016-11-29 11:00:00 AM
Traditionally, Quebec farms, like others across the country, have been passed on from parent to child. Each generation serves an apprenticeship of chores with increasing responsibility before taking over the job of running the farm. That’s no longer true. More and more children of farm owners are choosing different careers. But, at Cégep de Victoriaville at least, a new crop of farmers is being nurtured.
A new generation of farmers is good news for Quebec, which has seen a steady drop in the number of agricultural businesses. A potential problem for new farmers is that they don’t have the wealth of knowledge that comes from being raised on a farm. It’s also a challenge for young people just starting out to afford a farm, and the equipment needed to run it.
Clearly, then, it’s time to try some new approaches to revitalizing farm life. So, SSHRC’s College and Community Social Innovation Fund has given Cégep de Victoriaville funding to research and develop a system to support the successful transfer of farms to people from outside of the owner’s immediate family.
Simon Dugré and his team of researchers are framing the support system they hope will facilitate non-family farm transfer, and contribute to the sustainability of new farm enterprises. Their objective is to explore how to capture a farmer’s accumulated knowledge, transfer it and create practical “communities of practice” to support new farmers as they settle in.
At the heart of the researchers’ objectives is creating mentors skilled in helping businesses succeed because they’ve been through it themselves. The team will also help identify good matches between farmers ready to sell and agricultural entrepreneurs looking for a farm business. Bringing the two together, they will advise both on the challenges and decisions involved in making the transfer successfully.
Le Centre de Référence en Agriculture et Agroalimentaire du Québec
Fondation de L’entrepreneurship