Take a drive along any of our scenic country roads in York Durham Headwaters, and you are sure to come across more than one idyllic rural farm. These family-owned properties are thriving because people like you love fresh, local food. It’s your continued support of our farmers and food producers that is driving the industry towards local and sustainable options, which in turn helps to ensure that we preserve, nurture and improve the land on which our food is grown for future generations.
This is precisely what the Young Agripreneurs program at ClearWater Farm is all about. To ensure that the growing demand for local food producers is met, this innovative program, developed in partnership with Royal Bank of Canada, seeks to give the next generation of farmers the skills and experience to cultivate a career in the agriculture industry… pardon the pun. And it focuses on the theory of regenerative agriculture, which is the science and practice of ensuring that the soil is made better than when we started farming on it.
We recently spoke to Colin Dobell, Executive Director of the Ontario Water Centre, about the program. For an overview of what Young Agripreneurs is all about, check out our post:
We also introduced you to ClearWater’s first-year Agripreneurs, whose interests are as diverse as the agriculture industry itself. Read all about them here:
With the program now in its second year, there are another group of participants we’d like to introduce you to. They have been with the program since the start, and are now beginning to hit their stride. “The second-years have figured it out,” Colin says. “As they progress, we don’t really know what their choices are going to be. It’s interesting to take what our hypotheses were about these participants last year, and compare them to how each one has tailored their experience here to their interests in their second year.”
That is, after all, the whole point of the program—to take young people who are interested in the agriculture industry but don’t know how to find a way into it, and help them get there. “The whole notion of evolution and development of growing into [the agriculture industry] is an important part of our success,” Colin states.
Without further ado, meet the second-years of the ClearWater Farm Young Agripreneurs program.
This Young Agripreneur is the farm lead at ClearWater. It is up to Alexandra to make decisions on what is being planted and what the succession of crops will be throughout the season. This is no easy task and is quite a heavy responsibility. “Every single day there are tiny decisions that can affect the whole crop, or your whole CSA basket program,” she explains. “I’m working on talking through these decisions with the first-year farmers as well as with my colleagues. It’s been an exciting year.”
With her experience at ClearWater, Alexandra’s aim is to set an example for the first-years, and show them what is physically and mentally involved in farming. “It’s about being prepared to use your body physically for hard labour every single day,” she says, “and also about learning how to make intelligent choices.”
With the land that she has access to through the ClearWater Young Agripreneurs program, Danielle is focused on taking the skills she has learned in her first year and applying them to her own space. “I’m trying to start my own mini ClearWater,” she says.
Danielle credits the program with laying the foundation for her work in her second year. She is also grateful to be earning income while in her second year as she begins building the roots of her own business. “Without ClearWater,” she says, “I don’t think I would have been able to just jump into it and do it on my own.”
The ability to impact people by helping them access fresh and healthy food is what excites Michael the most. It is something that he is extremely passionate about.
“We work with a number of restaurants and small grocery stores,” he says. “Recently we have started working in the community-based food sector.” As a result of his dedication and commitment, organizations like the Georgina Food Pantry, York Region Food Network, and other services throughout Toronto are benefitting—as are the families and communities they help. What a beautiful testament to the success of the Young Agripreneurs program at ClearWater Farm!
For more information about the Young Agripreneurs program, visit https://clearwaterfarm.ca.
1614 Metro Rd. N.,
Willow Beach, ON L0E 1S0
Story by Katherine Ryalen