N.S. launches resource project for new farmers

Nova Scotia’s ag department has launched a program aimed at connecting the province’s new farmers with support, services and other available resources.

The four-year program, dubbed Thinkfarm, includes a co-ordinator working on resources for new farmers. It also offers a guidebook, resource fact sheets and a website as a “one-stop location for all information,” the province said Wednesday.

The program’s exact budget, not noted in the province’s release, is to be funded through the federal/provincial Growing Forward ag policy framework.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, in the province’s release, called Thinkfarm “a tremendous initiative that will help new farmers get the resources they need to start a farm business.”

“As new farmers, we were impressed by the program and it helped us immensely in pursuing our small farm dream,” Greg and Melissa Ross of Millville, about 30 km west of Kentville, said in the province’s release.

“Department staff are excited to have a program dedicated to working with beginning farmers from a variety of backgrounds,” Kevin Bekkers, the province’s agricultural resource co-ordinator in Antigonish, said in the release.

“The people getting into agriculture now are not the same people we saw 10 or 20 years ago,” he said, adding that the program “allows us to respond to the current needs of the industry and support this new group of farmers who are crucial to the continued viability of the farming sector in Nova Scotia.”

“We have been getting frequent requests for information and support from new entrants in the agriculture sector, so we focused on providing resources to meet their needs,” provincial Ag Minister John MacDonell said.

Ag department staff will also “continue to work to identify additional programs and services” for new farmers, the province said.

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