The Comox Valley is home to 500 farms, and the total acreage in the ALR is over 56,000 acres.

ALR issues discussed at next Mid Island Farmers Institute meeting

Farmers and community members will get a chance to comment on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Merville Hall, 1245 Fenwick Rd.

Farmers and community members will get a chance to comment on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Merville Hall, 1245 Fenwick Rd.

The Mid Island Farmers Institute will be hosting the event and will record participants’ comments for a submission to a newly formed provincial committee that will be travelling around the province listening to the community on how to revitalize the ALR.

The Comox Valley is home to 500 farms, and the total acreage in the ALR is over 56,000 acres. However, according to the 2013 inventory conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, less than a quarter of that acreage is actively farmed. The average age of farmers in the valley is 59. The average income per acres is $5,500, about one-fifth of the income derived in the Fraser Valley.

In 2014, a study conducted by the Comox Valley Food Roundtable found that older, established farmers couldn’t find farmers to lease their land but at the same time, new farmers were having trouble accessing farmland. Lack of housing was cited as one of the major impediments for new farmers trying to start farm businesses.

The Mid Island Farmers Institute invites participants to discuss these issues and more on Jan. 17.

After a refreshment break, participants will be asked to help populate a resource book for farmers in the Comox Valley. The book will be collecting sources of inputs, business that farmers have used, and resource people that have skills to support farmers.

The meeting is free for all members of the Mid Island Farmers Institute (membership is open to all for $20) or $5 for non-members. For more information, contact Arzeena Hamir at 250-702-5657, midislandfarmersinstitute@gmail.com or through the Institute’s Facebook Page.