MPP Caroline Mulroney, Annabel Slaight and Ernie Hardeman, Min of Agriculture at ClearWater Farm

By: Mike Anderson

An innovative training program run by the Ontario Water Centre, the not-for-profit organization that operates ClearWater Farm in Willow Beach, will receive $150,000 in provincial funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Young Agripreneurs Program (YAP) provides hands-on experience to young people interested in pursuing careers in regenerative agriculture, which aims to reverse climate change by improving soil health, water management and reducing fertilizer use.

The funding will allow 29 young people to receive training to start their own eco-friendly farms.

The funding is part of a larger $3.3 million cost-sharing program provided to 58 projects through Ontario’s Rural Economic Development Program (RED).

The goal is to help rural and indigenous communities diversity their economies, retain skilled workers, build infrastructure and create jobs.

The funding was announced at an event held at Clearwater Farm in Willow Beach, on July 23, with Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, joined by Caroline Mulroney, MPP York-Simcoe, and Annabel Slaight, Chair and Founder, Ontario Water Centre.

“Supporting local jobs and removing barriers to investment and economic growth in rural communities is more important than ever,” Minister Hardeman said.

“As the economy reopens, our investments in the Rural Economic Development program will have a very real impact for communities across rural Ontario.”

“Through today’s investment, our government is creating jobs and driving economic growth at a time when it is needed most in rural Ontario,” added MPP Mulroney.

“By investing in today’s youth and career development through great local organizations like the Ontario Water Centre, we’re ensuring young people can stay and work in their own communities.”

“This new RED grant helps us envision 29 young people being able to follow their passion to become leaders in local regenerative farming,” Ms. Slaight said.

“They will have a viable pathway to being eco farmers – through access to land, capital, marketing and hands-on training. And the hope is that they will also become part of seeding a new kind of agriculture with meaningful local roots in Georgina and beyond.”

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