MEETING OF MINDS Farmers and would-be farmers chat at a Land Linking event in Red Deer, AB. Photo by Sara Dent

MEETING OF MINDS Farmers and would-be farmers chat at a Land Linking event in Red Deer, AB. Photo by Sara Dent

By Steve Hubrecht

Pioneer Staff

Older farmers and younger prospective farmers in the valley will have a chance to participate in a kind of agricultural speed dating event this weekend.

The Land Linking event, put on by the Kootenay chapter of the Young Agrarians organization, is designed to match up older farm owners who are not actively working their farmland (or may not be in the near future) with younger would-be farmers looking for land to farm.

Land prices in southern B.C. are some of the highest in the country. Outright farm purchase is just not a realistic option for a lot of young farmers, said Kootenay Young Agrarians co-ordinator Laura Hannant. At the same time, in B.C., a lot of the most fertile land is currently owned by people who dont farm it or are old enough that they wont soon.

With family farms passed down through generations largely a thing of the past and with many of these older farmers eager to see their land still actively worked in years to come, the mix and match Land Linking events give the older farming generation a chance to meet younger people keen to work on their land.

The intitial part of the Invermere Land Linking event, which will be tomorrow (Saturday, February 14th), focuses on the benefits of and different types of legal arrangements available for Land Linking matches, giving an overview of the various ways such relationships can work.

The other part (of the event) is just like speed dating, said Ms. Hannant.

Participants will line up (older farm owners on one side, younger prospective farmers on the other), face each other, and chat to each other for a set amount of time, before moving down the line one place, until everyone has met.

Were expecting a really good mix of people, said Ms. Hannant, adding that shes hoping for about 30 people at the Invermere event. The land access mix is different in different parts of B.C. Here in the Kootenay region the trend is generally that there is more land available than there are young entrepreneurs wanting to farm it. So we have the opportunity here to attract young farmers eager for land from other parts of the province.

The prospective farmers can be looking for something as large as several hundred acres, or something as small as a half acre plot.

Its about trying to reconnect older and younger generations around food and farming, said Ms. Hannant.

The Invermere Land Linking event runs from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lions Hall at the Crossroads, with a potluck meal (open to anybody interested in agriculture, not just the Land Linking participants) following the event at 6 p.m.

To find out more contact Ms. Hannant at 604 800 2773 or by email at kootenays@youngagrarians.org.