New program offers low-risk intro to farming

A new "Start-Up Farm" program is giving a three-year, low-risk trial to people who want to see if farming is for them.

Start-Up Farm partnership gives a three-year trial

'Farming incubators' offer way in


8 years ago
There's a new program for people wanting to try farming without a big money investment. 2:36

Want to try farming without hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investments in land, equipment and supplies?

There’s a new "Start-Up Farm" partnership in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Blackburn Hamlet offering a low-risk trial before day jobs are dropped for a life in the fields.

Called a "farming incubator," it's giving people like federal government worker Dan Van Vilet a chance to try the transition on a smaller scale.

"My big dream is to have an environmentally sustainable farm one day, it's just a challenge getting the money together to buy that farm," he said.

"There's a lot of risk involved and at this stage in my life I’m not ready to take that risk."

Hopes for sustainable local food

Non-profit group Just Food is spearheading the project, trying to make a more sustainable food system by getting more people into farming and selling local produce.

Leela Ramachandran of Just Food said they're trying to get more local produce into the market. (CBC)

"This offers people a chance to get their hands dirty, try out their business ideas and also to build some market experience and skills," said Leela Ramachandran with Just Food.

The National Capital Commission is a partner as well, leasing lands for this project and hoping to provide more for this sort of initiative.

"We'd like to promote a more sustainable kind of agriculture — locally-based, diverse based, near to the consumer," said Steve Blight with the NCC.

The provincial government's Trillium Foundation is funding the program, giving it more than $250,000 over the next three years.

One participant's already quit day job

Recent graduates, construction workers and public servants participating in the incubator have all three years to learn before they're expected to head out on their own.

Jeremy Foss said he's already quit his carpentry job to focus more on farming. (CBC)

One participant said he’s already quit his carpentry job to focus on his farming.

"It's not like work, this is my life. This is what I'm doing and it’s so exciting and rewarding," said Jeremy Foss.

A farm stand will be set up in July at 2389 Pepin Court, where participants have been working to get their organic crops ready for sale.