Country Life in BC

April 10, 2019

Young Agrarians goes solo

by PETER MITHAM

Young Agrarians is now an independent charity after seven years as an initiative of FarmFolk/CityFolk.

The group joined with Agrarians Foundation on April 1. The foundation is a federally registered charity the Small-Scale Food Processors Association launched in 2014 but never fully activated due to a lack of capacity.

“The association provides services direct to people that are value-adding and they wanted to create something that would support primary producers,” says Sara Dent, executive director of Young Agrarians. “This was a perfect alignment. … Young Agrarians had grown and grown and grown and we were at the point where we needed our own dedicated board and administrative infrastructure from an operating perspective.”

Agrarians Foundation’s four directors – chair Bill Code, Nancy Ross, Kenneth Gallie and Kathleen Buote – will remain but new directors that reflect Young Agrarians’ priorities will be added.

Young Agrarians’ activities won’t be affected by the change but the foundation should enable it to secure funding. The charity reported $1,200 in income to the Canada Revenue Agency in 2017 (its most recent report). This year, it will have $500,000 worth of funding for programming.

A key program of Young Agrarians is a widely acclaimed land-matching program, which received one-year funding from the province last September of $300,000 as well as $25,000 in federal-provincial funding in January 2018. Additional funding partners include Metro Vancouver, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Columbia Basin Trust and Vancity.

Dent expects additional government funding to follow and hopes Young Agrarians’ new status will help attract funding for nationwide initiatives from new partners.

Young Agrarians operates through Organic Alberta in that province. Ontario members have hosted networking events in that province, and there has also been interest in Atlantic Canada. The cash to undertake events on a more consistent basis has been in short supply.

Dent hopes the foundation will allow it to tap into fresh sources of funding to give it a greater presence.

“We will be able to leverage Agrarians Foundation for national funding,” says Dent. “We do need to … build our capacity in that direction in order to do a proper national roll-out of programs.”