Rogersville group hopes to attract young farmers to the region with 'land bank'

In Rogersville, Kevin Arseneau of La ferme Terre Partagée, likes to dream big. He and a group of people in that community want to revive the once vibrant rural economy through an initiative they're calling "Let's Dream the Ridge," named after the rural road Arseneau lives on, called Pleasant Ridge.

Part of new "Let's Dream the Ridge" initiative organized by Kevin Arseneau of La ferme Terre Partagée

Kevin Arseneau rides the tractor with his son, Hugo, at La Ferme Terre Partagée in Rogersville. Arseneau wants to attract more farmers to the area. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

In Rogersville, Kevin Arseneau of La ferme Terre Partagée, likes to dream big.

He and a group of people in that community want to revive the once vibrant rural economy through an initiative they're calling "Let's Dream the Ridge," named after the rural road Arseneau lives on, called Pleasant Ridge.

"What we want to do is put the people that have land that are either not being used, or underused ... and put these people in contact with people that are looking for land and people that want to get into agriculture," he said on CBC Radio's Shift

At one time, Rogersville was known as the Brussels sprout capital of Canada, with many local people employed in the industry, but by the early 90s the industry was shut down.

Arseneau, who runs an organic fruit, vegetable and free-range, antibiotic-free poultry farm with his partner Rébeka Frazer-Chiasson, says in spite of that, the area is a great location for farming.

"We're very central in New Brunswick. We're two hours from Fredericton, one hour from Moncton and a half hour from the Miramichi, so I think the potential is great."

Arseneau and his group have formed what they call project action groups, because "nothing is more not fun than going to a committee [meeting]."

They work on one project at a time and this is one of their first initiatives. They have been talking to the local Chamber of Commerce, meeting with village officials and trying to stir up interest across the country to attract young farmers, especially those who dream of living off the land.

"Some people say, 'Kevin, why would you want to invite competition over to where you live?' It's not competition at all ... By co-ordinating together I think we could be a lot better and share some equipment and maybe share some infrastructure, and I think together we'd be a lot stronger," said Arseneau.
Kevin Arseneau is hoping to inspire more young people to farm vacant land in Rogersville, and he's hoping a film about the past will help. 8:49

In other words, he is creating a sense of community and he wants everyone to get on board. With that in mind, his group is holding a public meeting on June 14 at 7 p.m. at the recreation club on the Pleasant Ridge Road in Rogersville

Arseneau discovered a film about the Brussels sprout boom he's hoping will inspire people and it will be shown at the meeting. The documentary, "Do you plant cabbages? " was made in 1981 by filmmaker Claudette Lajoie for the National Film Board.

After the screening, which will be attended by Lajoie, there will be a discussion of Rogersville's past and the introduction of the land bank concept. For Arseneau, there's no question the dream will come true.

"The ripple effect is going to happen because I've been talking about it and I see more and more people wanting to get involved."



With files from Shift on CBC Radio One