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

John Smithers, Sridharan Sethuratnam

Abstract


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

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.

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