Despite Canada’s size, only seven percent of the country is arable. The term refers to land that can be cultivated for crops. As climate change continues to rapidly warm up our planet, the little arable land we have may disappear.
Farming is heavily reliant on weather conditions. In recent years, Canada has experienced increases in heatwaves. And although droughts are cyclical and to be expected every 10 years or so, climate change has exacerbated our most recent droughts. This has severely damaged crops.
The list continues.
Increased flooding, pest resilience, and natural disasters are just more consequences of climate change.
Farmers today are experiencing unpredictable challenges that were unknown to their predecessors and ancestors. Without meaningful changes made by governments, corporations and individuals to slow and reverse the effects of climate change, we’ll begin to see an increase in food insecurity and scarcity.
A major contributor to climate change is the increasingly large presence of carbon. In a healthy ecosystem, untilled soil, along with other organic matter, stores carbon and keeps it from seeping into our atmosphere prematurely.
A new generation of farmers is implementing practices that allow the soil to absorb as much carbon as possible. This includes minimum tillage and returning crop residue, which contains carbon, back to the soil. It also entails the increased integration of cover crops – plants that are grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil.
It can also enhance biodiversity, which enriches the soil’s ability to absorb carbon. The benefits are countless and all help in the fight against climate change.
But aspiring farmers are facing many obstacles.
In Ontario alone, 70 hectares of farmland is lost per day to urban expansion. That’s the equivalent of five family farms each week. Even with Canada’s small portion of arable land, the average size of Canadian farms has increased as corporations continue to buy out other farms. And as larger businesses continue to grow, the number of farmers is decreasing. If that’s not enough, Statistics Canada also reports the average farm in Canada costs $2.2 million.
With a high price tag and low availability, accessing land is challenging for the new generation of farmers.
Young farmers with a passion for ecological food production are a vital key to combatting climate change. Recognizing their importance, organizations across Canada are supporting their efforts to access arable land. But they can’t do it on their own. The cost for arable land, low availability, urban expansion, corporate buyouts and many other factors don’t just hinder young farmers but the organizations that support them. That’s why these organizations require support from all Canadians.
In addition to their other trailblazing programs (food justice, equitable food systems, and land sovereignty), those in the fund are connecting organizations, farmers, and community leaders across Canada to bolster the new generation of farmers.
This in turn will create sustainable farming practices, preserve ecosystems, and address the underlying issues that lead to land and food insecurity.
Donate to the Land and Food Justice Fund today. Support the new generation of young farmers that play a vital role in protecting our planet.
This article was written by Natasha van Bentum, Director of Give Green Canada. She is an international legacy and outreach advisor with a focus on conservation, farm/foodland access and the environment. Natasha is one of three curators of the Land and Food Justice Fund by Unite for change.