Cowansville, November 8th, 2021 – Last September 30th, more than twenty representatives of the agricultural sector’s regional organizations and local partners came together virtually to participate in the launching of the Chantier d’accès à la terre project, carried by the CLD of Brome-Missisquoi. The project aims to explore new avenues facilitating access to farmlands for new agricultural entrepreneurs hoping to settle in the region.

Benefiting from the financial support of the Entente sectorielle de développement du secteur bioalimentaire pour la réalisation de projets structurants 2018-2022 en Montérégie and the Fonds régions et ruralité (FRR) of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH), the Chantier d’accès à la terre project offers the CLD and its partners an opportunity to explore alternative land tenure models for the acquisition of agricultural land, and to explore the possibility of creating new models that are adapted to both the current needs of aspiring farmers and the biophysical characteristics of the territory.

In response to the challenges listed in the CLD’s 2021–2123 agri-food strategic plan, the project was born out of a growing concern about the difficulties new farmers encountered for accessing small parcels of land at reasonable prices. The project therefore originated from a determination to provide increased access to land so that the MRC’s agricultural sector can continue to be dynamic and diversified and to ensure the sustainability of the territory’s agricultural vocation.

Several Partners were needed for this important endeavour to be successful
To carry out this project, the CLD knows that it’s essential to enlist the help of its key partners. Therefore, the MAMH, the MAPAQ, the Financière agricole du Québec (FADQ), and the Association de la relève agricole de la Montérégie-Est (ARASH), the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie and the UPA union’s Brome-Missisquoi local chapter, agricultural producers and local organizations such as Protec’terre and Foncier solidaire participated in the advisory committee. This committee will see to identifying the professional resources making up the work team responsible for creating the toolbox for farmers and for those who will accompany them in the implementation of the new suggested business models.

The committee and the work team will be headed by the CLD’s agri-food development coordinator, Leslie Carbonneau, and by the project manager, Guylaine Ouellet, who was hired specifically to develop the project and who will coordinate the meetings and exchanges involved in the process. Ms. Ouellet has acquired several years of experience in the field of project management in the municipal and regional development sectors. “As project manager of the Chantier d’accès à la terre, I have the professional opportunity to support and lead a bold collective regional discussion driven by the desire to establish a different vision regarding agriculture and access to land. The idea of upholding the agricultural vocation of the territory in a spirit of renewal of our rural dynamics is a challenge that is definitely in line with my values and interests.”

Ms. Ouellet is joining the CLD Agri-food team for a period of ten months, until the end of the Chantier d’accès à la terre project’s implementation process. In terms of the different process phases, following several meetings and exchanges to explore and develop tools, the advisory committee and the work team will organize validation workshops with farmers and other stakeholders in the region so they can offer their comments and familiarize themselves with these tools. In June 2022, the CLD will unveil the final tool box they’ll have built within the framework of this project.

Brome-Missisquoi: A Precursor for alternatives leading to land access
It’s important to note that the CLD of Brome-Missisquoi initiated the innovative Banque de terres agricoles project which, when it merged with the Centre d’innovation sociale en agriculture (CISA)’s Banque de fermes project, led to the creation of L’Arterre, a provincial-wide pairing network that establishes agreements between farmers looking for land parcels and owners of uncultivated farmland. The CLD of Brome-Missisquoi wishes to once again position itself at the forefront of this endeavour by once again addressing the issues involved with access to land, this time by searching for new land leasing alternatives through pairing projects. The CLD hopes to be part of this provincial and indeed global trend, advocating greater food autonomy and closer proximity between consumers and producers.

For more information concerning the process, please consult the project overview (only available in French).