The New Farmers Initiative

The New Farmer Initiative was a pan-Canadian network of Food Secure Canada (2010-2017) bringing together groups and stakeholders working to advance the success and sustainability of small-scale local organic and ecological farmers in Canada. We inspire, equip and mobilize stakeholders to reduce the barriers new local ecological farmers face, such as access to land, capital and training.

Food Secure Canada launched the National New Farmers Initiative in collaboration with Farmstart to reach out to farm organizations across the country to continue dialogue and collaborations around farm renewal. Since its inception, the NFI undertook a range of provincial and national consultations involving over 150 organizations and individuals to identify the main barriers that new farmers face and what can be done to overcome them. The NFI also coordinated 3 national New Farmer Roundtable meetings at the Food Secure Canada Conferences in Edmonton (2012), Halifax (2014) and Toronto (2016) with over 100 participants from across the country. We have heard loud and clear that new farmers are facing unique challenges in terms of accessing land, start-up capital and training. The NFI came to a close as a formal network at the end of 2017, however Food Secure Canada continues to work with its members and partners on this important issue.


Key Dates and Highlightes:

  • In 2016, the Food Secure Canada Assembly featured two sessions organized by the New Farmer Intiative: a workshop focused on policy development and advocacy in collaboration wtih Innoweave, and a panel discussion on innovative projects working to address the key barriers faced by new farmers.
  • In 2015, Food Secure Canada featured new farmers as one of our four election planks.
  • In 2014, Food Secure Canada collaborated with FarmStart and the National Farmers Union Youth Caucus on the New Farmer Initiative, which included a New Farmer Roundtable at the FSC Assembly in Halifax, and subsequent webinars, featuring working models that are actively reducing barriers to new farmers. The New Farmer Roundtable on November 14th, 2014 built upon the sessions at the 2012 Assembly and brought new farmer leaders together to expand the national knowledge base of needs and opportunities for new farmers and build a platform for new regional and federal developments.  Many of the 75 participants were farmers themselves with experience in the field, as well as being representatives of organisations across Canada involved in new farmer work.
  • In 2014, the New Farmer Initiative led a series of consultations across Canada with farmers and farm organizations to hear the key barriers facing new farmers, and potential policy recommendations. The findings are summarized in the NFI's 2015 Policy Round-Up. The Quebec Region Report is also available for download.


Background materials from the New Farmer Initiative are listed and can be accessed here:

  • A description of the two sessions at the 2016 FSC Assebmly
  • An Overview of the 2014 New Farmer Initiative and Roundtable;
  • New Farmer Roundtable session flyer for the 2014 Assembly;
  • Regional Leads' reports on the state of new farmer programs in six regions of Canada (North, Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario, Prairies, British Columbia);
  • Regional Leads' powerpoints (North, Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario, Prairies, British Columbia);
  • Summary of the Policy Recommendations resulting from a pan-Canadian consultation with new farmer leaders;
  • Webinar on Farm Works Investment Co-op, a Nova Scotia character capital lender that is helping fledgling and expanding food businesses;
  • Webinar on FarmStart LLP a USA-based organization that provides working capital investments to new farmers. This is the second of two webinars exploring "character capital" as an effective solution for financing new farmers;
  • In 2014, in collaboration with FarmStart, FSC commissioned a report on promising new farmer initiatives and policy in the European Union, focusing on French, Italian and Spanish-speaking countries. The report was written by Baka Serkoukou, an FSC intern, with funding support from the John Molson Centre at Concordia University. The report can be found here.
  • In 2012 at the Food Secure Canada Assembly in Edmonton, FarmStart and convened a group of new farmer practitioners to share and discuss opportunities for new entrants.  The session featured 12 presenters from across Canada sharing snapshots of their new farmer work, with a total of 41 participants. More information on the workshops, including pdf's of the presentations, can be found here.
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