New Farms and Farmers in Ethno-cultural Communities: Aspirations, Barriers and Needs


  • John Smithers University of Guelph
  • Sridharan Sethuratnam University of Guelph


In Ontario, and across Canada, the loss of existing farmers through attrition and the low rate of entrance into agriculture by young people are changing the human side of the farm system and may soon have discernable impacts on domestic food supply—at least for that portion of total supply that has come historically from small and medium scale enterprises. At the same time as agriculture is experiencing a demographic shift, so too is Canadian society at large. This paper attempts to intersect these two spheres of change. Anecdotal evidence suggests the existence of a growing number of New Canadians from other cultural backgrounds, many with training and experience in agriculture, who would welcome an opportunity to engage in farming. The paper provides a demographic context for ethno-cultural farming possibilities and frames several existing impediments to progress. It then summarizes selected findings from a reconnaissance-level empirical investigation of challenges and prospects for farm incubation in ethno-cultural communities of producers and eaters in the Greater Toronto area with particular attention to the possible role of non-government and public sector agencies in securing the most basic of startup necessities—land. Keywords: new farmers, ethno-cultural communities, farm succession, farm planning, immigration