The fertile agricultural lands of the Cowichan region are a magnet for small farm activity. Yet with the rising cost of land and farm inputs, many emerging farmers struggle with being viable. Now, with the development of a new Agricultural Equipment Library Study, Economic Development Cowichan (EDC) hopes to provide emerging farmers with a small helping hand.
EDC worked with the Cowichan Green Community (CGC) to commission the Agricultural Equipment Library study in the fall of 2017. The study responds to several regional agricultural plans produced during the past decade that acknowledge local food production can be increased through the establishment of an equipment library.
The study, authored by CGC’s Seed Farm Incubator Coordinator Foster Richardson, examined existing models for equipment libraries established by the Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute and the Kootenay Agricultural Society. Drawing on the experiences of these organizations and data collected from an online survey, Cowichan Green Community also approached agricultural organizations throughout Cowichan for their feedback.The study determined there is a strong interest among many producers in Cowichan in an equipment library. Overall, it was determined that the region is well suited to the establishment of a project of this nature.
The Cowichan Green Community’s key recommendations for the implementation of an Agricultural Equipment Library in the Cowichan Region include building the library incrementally and honing in on the user groups that can derive the most benefit from shared equipment. Cowichan Green Community hopes to garner support from various sources in the coming months to begin a trial run of an equipment library.
For Economic Development Cowichan, the Agricultural Equipment Library Study provided a practical means of investing resources in the agricultural community to produce hands-on results. In the coming year, Economic Development Cowichan will continue its work in agriculture by facilitating ongoing discussions on potential land lease programs in the region.