Starting a Small Farm Operation in the Fraser Valley

Starting a Small Farm Operation in the Fraser Valley

Have you been thinking about starting a small farm operation in the Fraser Valley? With the explosion of self employment and the striving for independence and autonomy, many individuals and families are moving to the country. They are attracted to the fresh air and wholesome environment, growing their own food and sharing community while still enjoying their privacy.

 If you are not inheriting a family farm or in possession of considerable financial assets, starting a new farm on a limited budget may seem beyond the realm of possibility.

Boutique Markets

Farming is so extremely important to our health and economy that smaller boutique agriculture operations are springing up throughout the Fraser Valley.  Farmers  seek to lower their carbon footprint and reduce costs by minimizing the input of pesticides and fertilizers. They are utilizing smaller land plots more intensely than ever before. There is a strong trend toward localized, organic food,  and specialized artisan and value added products that cater to boutique markets.  Some ideas could include: organic vegetables, specially processed grains or oilseeds, cut flowers,  garlic, herbs, bedding plants, jams and preserves, lavender oil, flavored olive oil, pesto sauce or luxurious handmade soap.

Small Farm Operations

Small parcels of land, typically less than 2 acres, do not typically have a significant market value for commercial use or lease. They are therefore, more readily available than the larger parcels and are easier to find for less cost to new farmers.

Land located outside of the ALC in BC, must be at least two acres to qualify for farm status. Land inside the ALC, land less than two acres must gross more than $10,000 annually. Two to ten acres must earn more than $2500 annually.

Lease Options for a Small Farm

It is important to note that some land owners will lease for a lower price to someone who will replenish the soil and practice responsible agricultural techniques.

Furthermore, in the case of leasing, the income requirements apply to farm gate sales, not the value of the leases. Land can be leased for as little as $1 and still receive farm status if the land owner and tenant can prove that the agricultural enterprise is generating the minimum revenue required.

Significant tax savings can be realized  by land owners who lease land to other farmers. They can use crop shares, profit percentages, and in-kind services to reduce costs to tenants and help the land owner to share the risk.

Unfortunately, leasing land can be a barrier to accessing financing and capital because it’s not an asset and cannot be used as collateral for a loan. Consequently, lease costs are not recoverable and don’t contribute to the overall equity position of a farmer.

Finally, with the aging population of current farmers,  there are great opportunities for lease to own options.

Small Farm Sustainability

In conclusion, the Fraser Valley is one of the best regions in Canada for agriculture. It has one of the longest frost free growing seasons in Canada. Due to an average of 1500 mm of rainfall annually and an abundance of the most fertile soil in Canada, our location holds an outstanding opportunity for growth. With excellent topography and proximity to supply and market, it is the ideal place to produce organic local food.

Certainly, farming can be a very rewarding, meaningful and satisfying way to contribute to society as a whole, while providing the very best for your family.

If you are thinking of buying or selling acreage, contact Joan Hansen at 604-220-7653 for a FREE market evaluation. Joan has 40 years of experience buying and selling real estate in the Fraser Valley.

Published Compliments of Joan Hansen HomeLife Benchmark Realty