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Regenerative Farmer Program
Application Information

Please read the following information, and when you are ready, submit your application via email to farm@sandowncentre.com

 

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Regenerative Farmer Program at Sandown is a 3-year (renewable) term incubator model which includes land access, mentorship, and shared tools and infrastructure. The program supports new-entrant farmers, with less than five years of farming experience, to gain regenerative farming skills and launch their farm businesses.  

Farmers in the program are expected to learn and adhere to regenerative land management practices, which include:

  1. Keep the soil covered;

  2. Minimize soil disturbance;

  3. Maximize crop diversity;

  4. Integrate livestock;

  5. Maintain a living root year round;

  6. Understand the context of your farm operation.

Additionally, 

  • Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are not allowed.

  • We are not certified organic but expect that organic standards are followed.

  • We practice minimal tilling, and work to support farmers to learn how to apply regenerative practices to their farm plan.

  • We encourage crop diversity, interplanting and hedgerows, and require farmers to cover-crop when possible. We expect participants to be involved and engaged in the community and the  wider movement at Sandown as they grow their farm business. 

 

About the Land 

The Sandown Centre is located on the former site of the Sandown Horse Race Track, which included a racing ring, grandstand, accessory buildings, parking area, and gravel roads. The legacy of this use remains today, in the form of compacted soil, limited biodiversity, invasive species pressure, loss of topsoil, and an excess of rock and gravel. The former gravel parking lot was not completely removed and many of the farm plots have 2 or 3 x 10’ wide strips of discontinued road running through them.

 

Farming here is not easy. But it can be done! What's more, we have seen incredible improvement in the soil and biodiversity since we began in 2021. We are demonstrating that farming on marginalized land is possible, and that soil restoration can happen while growing food. The implications of this research are incredibly significant, and meaningful to participate in. 

By farming at Sandown, you will learn how to restore soil. You will learn how to address the many challenges that come along with it, and that knowledge and skill will become invaluable as you grow as a farmer.  One of our farmers said that ‘farming at Sandown gave [her] the confidence and skill to know that [she] can farm anywhere’. That is no small thing, and it’s a message to keep close to your heart as you contend with thistle or pick rocks from your plot. 

 

About the Available Plots

Plot One - 1/2 Acre

  • Has been in cultivation since 2021. 

  • The first farmer (Oloron Farm) utilized the southern half of the area to grow vegetable crops.

  • In 2022, Fairweather Gardens took over and has been growing a diversity of annual vegetables, flowers, medicinal herbs, and dye plants.

  • The previous farmers have made significant improvements to the land, through countless hours of rock picking, weeding, breaking up compaction,  and a lot of compost. However, there is still work to be done. 

  • The total plot dimensions are 100’ x 200’, with 100’ beds running east-west in the southern half of the plot. The northern half has been opened up fall 2023 and cover cropped, but has not seen crop cultivation. 

 

Plot Two - 1/4 Acre

  • This market garden plot has been in cultivation since 2021.

  • The current farmer, Frozen Coast Farm, has been growing a diversity of annual vegetable crops in rotation.

  • They have put in tremendous effort in restoring the soil through countless hours of rock picking, breaking up compaction through tillage and cultivation, addition of compost, compost teas and extracts, top soil, cover cropping/green mulching, etc.

  • The plot dimensions are 50’ x 200’, established in 4 blocks of 50’ raised beds with wood chip mulch permanent pathways.

Application Process

If you are interested in applying to become part of the Regenerative Farmer Program at the Sandown Centre, please submit a one-page application answering the following questions:

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you want to be a part of the incubator farm at Sandown?

  2. What is your existing farm business or plan for your farm business and previous experience?

  3. What are your considerations for housing, financial investment, and time? 

  4. Please indicate if you are applying for the ¼ acre plot or the ½  acre plot. 

Email your completed initial application to Sandown’s Farm Manager, Jenn Cline, at: farm@sandowncentre.com. Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions about the application. 

  • Applications will remain open until midnight on December 15th, 2023.

  • Shortlisted applicants will be notified by December 18th, 2023, and asked to provide a more detailed farm business plan to be submitted by January 5th, 2024. A framework/template will be provided by Sandown.

  • Applicants who move beyond this more detailed application will then meet with the Executive Director, Farm Manager, and Community Engagement Manager.

  • Successful applicants will be notified by January 15th, 2024.

Thank you for taking the time to apply, we look forward to hearing from you! 

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