Community Farming Challenges

Community farmers face a range of economic, social, and regulatory challenges.

Legislative and Bylaw Barriers

Policy Barriers

Working Together

People sharing multi-functional farms have diverse objectives and goals. To be successful, clear strategies for cooperative business management and community-building need to be designed, practiced, and regularly evaluated. Read more about working together on community farms.

Getting and Protecting Farmland

Rising land prices and developmental pressures, as well as zoning and other regulations affecting agricultural land use, make it difficult for new farmers to acquire land and for existing farmers to keep land in agricultural production. Read more about acquiring and protecting farmland.


Agricultural Land Reserve regulations prohibit the subdivision and non-agricultural uses of ALR land. Additional housing may be permitted on ALR land for "clearly demonstrated" farming purposes, including apprentices, farm workers, and additional farmers.

Perception of Unfair Advantage

Some people think that community farms might not be economically viable or have competitive advantage over other new or established farm businesses due to dependence on philanthropy, grants, and subsidies. However, under current market conditions, farmers pay lease fees within the range of privately-held leases, and farmers exhibit a wide range of incomes. And government support, such as research, training and other extension services, is available to all new and existing farmers. The “subsidy” provided by a community farm model is a social and environmental one, rather than economic.

Other Challenges

Like other farms, community farms are challenged by restrictive zoning and regulations on value-added farm production (for example, meat processing and commercial kitchens). Certification for organic production, and appraisals, legal surveys, and monitoring for conservation covenants are costly and time-consuming processes. Liability insurance for multi-functional farms is difficult to get, and expensive.

created by: Barbara Joughin

Last Modified: August 25, 2015