Keremeos farmer finds land through province's land matching program to begin career

Returning to farming roots

A Keremeos farmer is adding his voice in support of a BC initiative that helped him find land to begin his career, after returning to his roots in agriculture. 

With a childhood of growing up on an orchard and playing among the fruit trees, Kanver Brares comes from a long line of farmers and orchardists. Although he went off to complete a business degree, he returned back to agriculture when realizing the family career was also his passion in life. 

Brares is part of the 100 farmers since 2016 that have started growing crops and raising livestock, covering over  2,023 hectares (5,000 acres) of farmland through the B.C. Land Matching Program (BCLMP).

"Over the past years in the Okanagan, land has become a scarce resource. As a young farmer starting up, the purchasing price per acre is not realistic. The BCLMP offered new opportunities for young farmers who would like to acquire land,” Brares said in a press release.

“This program helps farmers seeking land in B.C by matching their land criteria with landholders looking to lease their land.” 

Fellow orchardists Alain Peron and Donna Bartlett in Keremeos were matched with Brares late last year through the program and will see him take over the 2.12-hectare (5.25-acre) orchard and business. Old Tower Farm has been built over the last 25 years.

“The experience with this program was outstanding. They offered business resources and professional advice to guarantee full satisfaction from both parties. The BCLMP provided numerous options of land opportunities in the region that one couldn't find personally. As the interest of new farmers is increasing, this program will help and motivate new farmers to acquire land. BCLMP is an excellent program that is pushing for the future sustainability of farmers," Brares said. 

In total, the 46 land matches finalized in 2020 will help improve food security, create economic growth and bring more local food options to communities in B.C. following COVID-19, according to the program’s plans from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. 

"This is an amazing milestone reached by the farmers and landholders who have been brought together through the BC Land Matching Program," Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said in a press release. 

"Through this program, we are helping farmers access land and keeping it in production, which strengthens B.C.'s food security and supports our local economies. Each match, whether big or small, adds to our next generation of agricultural leaders and means more opportunities for British Columbians to enjoy local products from their region."

The initiative aims to support young farmers and food producers seeking a career in agriculture and addresses major challenges for new farmers, such as gaining access to land. As a part of the Province's New Entrant Strategy, the goal is for an increase in the number of new and young farmers working in BC's agriculture sector.

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