Agriculture in Norfolk County, Ontario.
Many people think of farmers as the average white male in his 50s, inheriting the farm from generations of family tradition on hundreds of acres of land. While this may be the case for most farmers and is indeed becoming a demographic challenge, a new trend of first generation farmers is growing. For some, entering the business is popular, especially when involved with farmers’ markets.
First generation farmers face many challenges. The first being economic issues, including lack of access to land due to high prices, and lack of access to capital and credit. In addition, machinery and supplies are required to begin farming, which may prevent farmers from starting.
By providing farmers with more opportunities to sell their items at farmers’ markets, they are provided with a better price for their product, allowing them more resources to run their farm. They also provide opportunities to connect with customers and communities. These connections also provide opportunities for the growth of new world crops.
East of the Sun children's garden provides opportunities for youth to brush up on their green thumb.
There are successful training programs for would-be new farmers in organic agriculture through season-long on-farm internships, provided through Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training Ontario (CRAFT Ontario). A survey shows the typical participant is 26, female (68 per cent), and grew up in the city (43 per cent). This provides strong opportunities for farmers connecting through markets in urban environments, bringing the country to the city.
Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market has some young farmers, something manager Anne Freeman is really excited about, and feels they are bucking the trend for this demographic.
“We have so many young farm families that this year we had to work out some market daycare because we have a lot of people starting families,” said Anne. “They’re talking about their kids as future farmers. That is really exciting.”
Farmers' markets showcase fresh fruit and vegetables along with beautiful displays.
While new farmers continue to offer fresh food to urban environments, customers connect directly with the farmer, avoiding the finances involved with wholesale, and supporting young farmers financially.
Though some may have chosen farming because their family has done so for generations, others have made it their choice of profession, providing great potential for their families and generations to come. We’re happy to have supported programs to encourage young and ethno-cultural farmers in and around the Greenbelt. And we will continue to do so.