Evaluating Land for Farming
Before you sign a Fraser Valley land lease, you’ll need to evaluate the land to make sure it suits the needs of your crops and production.
- Water supply: Make sure there is an adequate water supply at the site for irrigation. Ask the landowner if there have ever been water shortages in the area. Also: is there potable water for washing produce? If not, could you install a water-treatment system? A layer on our land leasing map will show you aquifer production and wells found throughout the City.
- Location: Where is the land in relation to markets, and housing for you and your employees? Is the property accessible for equipment? Will increased traffic, or parking, be issues for the landowner? Reference the ALR layer on our map to see if your location falls on the Agricultural Land Reserve.
- History of the land: Past farming and other uses could affect soil health. Ask the landowners, and the neighbours, about past uses, and potential concerns such as previous filling or dumping. Contact city hall to find out about the property’s history.
- Soil and vegetation: Make sure the site’s soil [link to soil page] is the right type for your crop, and scout the land for the presence of harmful weeds.
- Layout: How hilly or flat is the land, and in what direction is the sun exposure? Different crops prefer different hours of sunlight. Also consider wind exposure, which can make growing challenging.
- Equipment: Does the farm come with machinery that you can use? If so, who will be responsible for repairs and maintenance?
- Storage and buildings: Are there secure buildings to store farm equipment? What about refrigeration facilities? Greenhouses? If not, can you build on the land, and will the landowners pay for building materials?
- Security and privacy: Is fencing in place, and if not, could you install it (preferably the landowner would pay for this, or you’d install a variety you could take with you when you left)? Is the land visible to nearby streets and neighbours, and will this be an issue?
- Farm stands: Will the landlords allow you to sell produce from the farm, or build a market stand? Some prefer not to allow this, due to increased traffic.
- Power supply: Does the site have enough power, of the right voltage and capacity for your needs?
- Cell reception: Does your mobile phone work in the area? If not, will a landline be enough for your business?
- Lease length: For how long are the owners willing to lease their land? Longer is often better. A year-to-year agreement might be risky, because new farms usually need at least five years to become profitable.
- Restrictions: Does the landowner have any conditions that would limit your options on the land – for example, rules against garbage piles, or equipment and supplies sitting in the open?
The land-evaluation checklist above comes from the Young Agrarians. For a more detailed version of this list, download the group’s excellent Land Access Guide.