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Kamloops Farm Business Incubator Program

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September 11, 2015 - 5:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - The City of Kamloops and Community Futures Thompson Country (CFTC) have partnered on the development of a Farm Business Incubator Program (FBIP), hosting a workshop on June 24, 2015 to gauge interest from new and aspiring farmers for an agriculture incubator. The public input report from the FBIP workshop is now available at www.kamloops.ca/environment/pdfs/Presentation-IncubatorWorkshop.pdf. The report pulls together all the comments and suggestions provided by participants at the workshop.

The workshop featured keynote speakers, Christie Young, Executive Director of FarmStart, a leading Agriculture Business Incubator Program in Canada, and Elmarie Roberts of Haliburton Community Organic Garden in Saanich, B.C., who provided overviews of their respective farm business incubators. A series of focus group discussions were also offered. The workshop aimed to determine the following:
- If there is a demand for a FBIP;
- What resources, training and education are important to new farmers;
- Potential risks, issues and limitations of a FBIP;
- The intent and desired outcome of a FBIP; and
- Suggestions on what the incubator farm would look like and how it would operate.

Common themes identified by participants included: the desire for farmers to work together; greater focus on community awareness and support for local agriculture; mentorship from experienced farmers; and the need for training, tools, and infrastructure. Feedback was received from over 45 participants, and 15 participants indicated interest in enrolling as a farmer, mentor, land provider, or other support role.

David Arsenault, General Manager, CFTC said the interest at the June workshop for “new farmers in an agriculture incubator was very encouraging” and that CFTC is “excited to be involved with the City in such a worthwhile project.” CFTC will take on the development and management of the program, with advisory support from the City. The hope is that a long-term commitment and partnership between the City, CFTC, and the agricultural community can be developed, strengthening and enhancing agricultural viability in Kamloops.

Public land has been secured at the Tournament Capital Ranch in Rayleigh for the program. The coming year will see a lot of activity at the Tournament Capital Ranch as the farm site is evaluated, land is prepared, and the program area is fenced. A project advisory committee will be established to support program development, and a manual for the FBIP developed.

“The City of Kamloops is anxious to partner with area farmers to help recreate the solid agricultural roots that helped build our city,” said Councillor Ken Christian. The City and CFTC are looking forward to the first Farm Business Incubator Program growing season which is anticipated for 2017.

For more information on the FBIP, sign up to receive periodic email updates on the progress and public engagement opportunities. Email sculver@communityfutures.net or call 250-828-8772 to be added to the list. Also, stay tuned to the FBIP webpage at www.kamloops.ca/environment/land-incubatorprogram.shtml for additional opportunities for involvement.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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