Matthew Carr is one of three nominees for the BC Outstanding Young Farmer honour
By Diego Flammini
A fruit and vegetable producer from Krestova, B.C. is up for an award recognizing young farmers in the province.
Matthew Carr, owns and produces fruits and vegetables for farmers’ markets, CSA programs, local grocers and for his new farm stand at his 10-acre farm, Linden Lane Farms.
This work earned him a nomination for B.C.’s Outstanding Young Farmers, which celebrates farmers between the ages of 18 and 39.
“I was a little bit overwhelmed when I found out I’d been nominated,” he told Farms.com. “It’s a very big honour as a third-generation farmer in a community where there’s not a lot of agriculture going on.”
The farm has been in Carr’s family since 1978. It started as a five-acre operation to produce food for the family.
Carr’s interest in agriculture started in high school.
It was during a Grade 11 biology experiment about plant breeding that led him to developing a 100 x 100 backyard nursery with shrubs and other plants.
Advertisements online had people lining up to visit the farm.
“The farm had just been sitting idle until I planted my nursery,” he said. “Eventually my dad kicked me out of the backyard because people showed up thinking we were this huge garden centre. I ended up buying truckloads of vegetables from a local garden centre having an end-of-season sale.”
While starting his farming venture, Carr also played junior hockey.
He spent three seasons with the Fernie Ghostriders in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He scored 59 points in 100 regular season games and nine points in 29 playoff games.
This meant he juggled playing hockey, operating a farm business and getting his education.
“When I left in the fall of my Grade 12 year, I left my parents with thousands of pounds of produce,” he said. “That winter, I looked into horticulture for schooling and started my post-secondary education, getting high school credits, for taking botany and soil courses online.”
Carr has earned certificates in field production management and greenhouse management from the University of Saskatchewan, Olds College and the University of Manitoba. He also has a Bachelor of Agriculture specializing in horticulture from the University of Saskatchewan.
During his ag journey, Carr decided to make a change in his business.
He switched from nursery stock to focus on vegetable production.
“As much as I love the nursery stock, it takes three or four years before you have something you can sell,” he said. “And with me, cash flow was the biggest issue because I started with nothing. With vegetables, it’s more of that annual production so I have money coming in I can invest back into the business.”
He used this money to build greenhouses, fencing and irrigation.
The farm also raises livestock for Carr’s family and to produce manure and compost to sell to the community.
The farm is now in its 11th year of production and has hosted four Pumpkin Fests.
“Last year we saw 5,000 people in four days picking pumpkins and visiting the farm,” he said. “It’s a great way to get the community out to experience farm life because there’s not a lot of farming in our region.”
Looking back on his ag career to this point, Carr has a message for other young farmers.
“You can’t rush,” he said. “I started when I was 17. If I do this until I’m 67, that means I get 50 years to try things and change things. For us, the safest thing was to make sure we knew our cash flows and how it worked on the farm so we could buy inputs or hire employees without feeling the extra stress.
“I see some farmers taking on a lot of debt so they can have success sooner. But sometimes taking things slow and letting things develop can help in the longer term.”
The other farms up for the award are Creekside Cheese + Creamery in Agassiz, and Hopcott Farms from Pitt Meadows, B.C.
Jenn, Travis and Brad Hopcott represent the third generation of the family farm.
The family raises and processes its own beef on the farm. The farm has its own grocery store and an on-site bistro to serve customers.
The winners of the regional event will represent the BC/Yukon region in the national event.
The national event is scheduled for November 22 to 26 in Quebec.