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Peterborough develops farmer mentor tool

Peterborough develops farmer mentor tool

The local economic development organization plans to launch the tool in April

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An Ontario community is creating a resource to help new farmers connect with established producers.

Yesterday, Dave Smith, MPP for Peterborough-Kawartha, announced $20,000 of provincial funding for Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development to develop an online tool geared towards attracting new farmers to the region.

The County of Peterborough gave a matching contribution.

Starting a farm can be an expensive venture.

Farmland in Peterborough averaged $4,800 per tillable acre in 2017, an Ontario Federation of Agriculture survey said.

This online resource will allow new farmers to enter a mentorship-like program with veteran producers, said Rhonda Keenan, president and CEO of Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development.

“We recognize that this area has a rich agricultural history,” she told Farms.com. “We also recognize that people entering the farming community can’t afford to buy a 500-acre farm right from the start. This tool will help new farmers develop relationships with other local farmers who may have land to lease, equipment to rent or just resources to share.”

The organization is gathering information, which it needs to finish by March. The team hopes to launch the online tool in April, Keenan said.

Once the tool is live, new and established farmers can sign up as a mentees or mentors.

Producers are happy to see steps being taken to ensure the future of agriculture in the area.

“It’s a great idea for younger farmers to spend time with us older guys,” Ed Lewis, a local cash crop producer, told Farms.com.

Lewis is nearly 80 years old and has lived on a farm since the age of six. This experience would allow him to pass on some tips new farmers may not learn from a textbook, he said.

“You learn a lot about farming from experience and making mistakes,” he said. “We try to keep up with the new technology that comes out, but I’m sure there’s a few things I could teach a new farmer that they wouldn’t read anywhere.”

Other producers are also in favour of the mentorship initiative.

“I think having older farmers teach younger ones is a fantastic approach,” Phyllis Boyce, who raises cattle with her husband in Peterborough, told Farms.com. “My husband is almost 80 and we won’t be doing this forever. So, if we’re able to pass down some of the knowledge that we’ve learned during our farming careers, it would be beneficial for the next generation of farmers.”

PointImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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