Young farmer is the new buzz word in agriculture these days. Sought after by agribusinesses for future contracts and advocacy groups for a fresh voice, young farmers have become a recognized force in the industry; a force that is getting stronger as food becomes more important and mainstream. Often armed with a university degree, solid tech savvy and keen business sense, the upcoming generation of farmer is a far cry from Old McDonald.
The future generation of farming is coming from all angles. The most common still the next generation of the family farm, some young farmers are millennials that have no direct background in agriculture whatsoever.
One such young farmer is Jenny Throop (pictured here with Ryan Christie), owner of Happy Radish Farm. Fitted with an undergrad in Geography and Masters of Science, Permafrost, Jenny started out by working a variety of random jobs that left her unfulfilled. She then studied horticulture, completed a season on an organic farm and joined the Just Food Start Up program. She has not looked back since.
‘I have always wanted to do something with my life that has meaning and doesn't contribute negatively to the environment. When I realized that it might be possible to earn a living by growing food for people, I was sold,’ says Jenny. Farming very much a business, it helps that Jenny also has a penchant for accounting, planning and customer service.
As many producers will tell you, the start-up costs of farming are very high. ‘One of the biggest challenges is how hard it is to earn a living in farming. It takes patience and time to scale up and learn the necessary skills to become profitable.’
Continuing on her foray into farm life, Jenny added, ‘I guess so far my biggest success is having a great first season in farming. Also, the fact that many people in Ottawa were able to eat healthy, fresh organic produce that we grew is a huge success for us!
The Beechwood Market is lucky to have an ambitious young farmer like Jenny on board. Flexible and earnest, Jenny is a perfect example of the young entrepreneur our Market likes to foster.
Dwindling in numbers, young farmers require a lot of our urban support to continue feeding the masses. So, come down and say hi to Jenny. You will have no problem finding Happy Radish Farm at the Market, just look for the most colourful set up and the biggest smile!