VICTORIA –¬†Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities in B.C. will be able to begin or expand their farming and food businesses through funding available in the next intake of the B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program.

“The Government of Canada deeply values the contributions of Indigenous farmers and food businesses who are working hard to bring high-quality, local food to their communities,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Investments through this program will continue to help B.C.’s Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs grow and expand their operations, create good jobs and further boost the local economy.”

Eligible applicants can receive professional mentoring and project-specific advice from qualified business consultants with experience in building agriculture ventures to help them develop their businesses and support food security in B.C.

“We’ve seen such an amazing response to this program from Indigenous entrepreneurs and Indigenous communities all over B.C.,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “Supporting the planning and developing of farming projects and businesses leads to expanding the province’s agricultural industry and brings more opportunities for First Nations to build food security, create local jobs and grow the local economy.”

The program supports the planning of farming projects in Indigenous communities. It leads to economic activity, local employment and contributes to the province’s food production and food security. To date, the program has supported 48 communities and entrepreneurs through $297,390 in funding.

For example, the program is helping the Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) with agricultural education and training to grow community involvement in farming and increase food security. Once farming activity increases, the TFN is aiming to establish a sustainable community garden and a community-supported agriculture program, which will allow customers to subscribe to receive fresh produce throughout the growing season.

“The Tsawwassen First Nations is working hard to bring more agricultural opportunities to our community,” said Chief Ken Baird, TFN. “The professional guidance provided through the B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program is supporting our goals of increasing agricultural knowledge and farming activity within the Tsawwassen First Nations.”

Indigenous entrepreneur Julian Napoleon is planning a market garden to grow vegetables on one hectare (2.5 acres) in Moberly Lake that will eventually provide produce to local farmers’ markets, food hub and the Saulteau Band office. His agricultural project would see the return of his family’s gardens that supplied enough produce for the entire Saulteau First Nation community during the 1970s.

“The Indigenous Agriculture Development Program has helped me to get serious about business planning to ensure my farming will be profitable,” Napoleon said. “I have years of farming experience, but never ran the business side of things. Working with a mentor really helped me to build these skills. I now know that I can farm and make a decent living.”

Applications are being accepted on a first-come first-serve basis until the funding is fully subscribed. To apply, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/indigenous-agriculture-development-program