The profile of the typical Canadian farmer is changing

Many have chosen to leave the city to improve work-life balance, have more space, or find more affordable housing. Choosing to leave the city to switch careers and become farmers? Yes, this is also happening. Going from urbanite to full-fledged farmer is one giant leap of faith. A 2018 Statistics Canada report said that the proportion of younger people and women taking up farming has increased.

The profile of the typical Canadian farmer is changing. These new farmers are typically urban-raised, university-educated and have a strong commitment to environmental and sustainable practices. And many do not have a family history or background in farming.

“I never had a green thumb,” said Aminah Haghighi, “I could barely keep houseplants alive.” Haghighi is the founder and head of Raining Gold Family Growers established in January 2021 and based in Hillier, Prince Edward County. She is currently farming a quarter of an acre and has a direct-to-consumer sales approach. Starting in January, Haghighi had to be quick on her feet to determine what she could sell at that time. “I came up with the idea of selling microgreens as that is something you can grow indoors under lights on shelves,” she said. Her efforts paid off. She had a total of 80 CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) subscribers and raised just under $10,000 in revenue. “That was the first time I felt connected with the community, because they wanted to see me succeed,” she tells me.

Ultimately what led her to become a farmer is her keen ability to solve problems and doing it as quickly as possible.

Paper Kite Farm was born in February 2021 with their first seedlings, and in June they started selling their garden veggies and ready-made meals and beverages at the Picton Farmers’ Market every Sunday. Their farm is situated in North Marysburgh, Prince Edward County, and the Ning family are currently farming a quarter of an acre while also raising laying hens.

Ning had a rural upbringing and is ethnically Hmong — a hill tribe people. “We are found all over Southeast Asia, and my parents were born in Laos,” said Ning. “Farming was and still is a huge part of the Hmong culture. While I didn’t always appreciate the garden in my youth, I’m now doing my best to tap back into my heritage.”

They are now able to enjoy the fruits of their labor and set money aside to invest for things down the road, like getting the farm to be as off-grid as possible. She encourages new farmers to ask themselves what they want from the farm — to either work full or part-time for it. “It’s a business and it’s also really involved with your life and you need to think of those two things together,” she adds.

“I have a crazy amount of people that message me all the time saying that I’m living the dream,” said Haghighi, “and they wish they could do what I’m doing.”

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