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The near urban location of our Start-Up Farms helps prospective farmers to start their operation and at the same time work off farm or stay in their current communities. A new farmer can get their business model off the ground (product, production, marketing, pricing etc.), they can spend the time gaining the skills and assets they need and they can experiment in new crops and production techniques without the risk of having to “buy the farm”. We believe this helps to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and allows new farmers to safely make their mistakes, innovate and re-strategize. There are very few ways that a new farmer can get into the business with such a level of risk tolerance and low cost of entry.
Though on paper it may seem the enterprises our farmers start are small in scale, the fact that most are generating income from it indicates that farming at this scale is viable and can also lead to appropriate and manageable scaling up of their enterprises as they move on and grow.
Near urban farmers are also uniquely situated to be able to take advantage of the growing demand for fresh (“just picked”) meaningful (“down the street”, “familiar foods from home”) products. The interest in locally grown and culturally appropriate food is outpacing supply (see Growing International: Exploring the potential of growing ethno-cutural food markets in the GTA). These consumers and institutions are driving the resurgence of local farmers, shorter more transparent food supply chains and direct marketing avenues. Our start-up farmers at are part of a new generation of farmers who will produce this food and serve these markets.