Farm Skill Training
First thing’s first: you don’t need to know everything about farming to become a farmer. There are plenty of farmer-training programs in the Fraser Valley, and other ways to gain agriculture skills, and abilities in specific areas of farm work.
Skills Needed for Working on a Farm in the Fraser Valley
Farmers use a range of skills every day; some physical – like hefting hay bales – and some people-related, like managing employees and talking to shop owners. Some other examples:
- Sowing seeds
- Putting up and fixing fences
- Spreading fertilizer
- Harvesting crops
- Managing time and staying organized
For most agriculture jobs, it also helps to have an understanding of machinery and technology and modern farming techniques offer many advantages for new farmers.
Farming Courses and workshops
Depending on your current knowledge, and how much time and money you can commit, you may want to consider:
- Farm workshops, to learn specific skills. One example is MarketSafe, a food-safety program for farmers who make, bake or grow products to sell at markets.
- Apprenticeships, for hands-on practice before you lease land.
- Colleges and universities that specialize in agriculture; for instance, Kwantlen Polytechnic and the University of the Fraser Valley.
- Individual arrangements. If you don’t know how to operate a certain piece of farm equipment, you could contract or hire someone to train you, or do the job for you. You could also barter or exchange skills with another farmer.
There are lots of opportunities for young farmers to take over Fraser Valley farms and learn. In 2011, the average age of farm operators was 56, according to Statistics Canada. That means a huge number of farmers are retiring, and likely able to share knowledge and skills when they lease their farmland.