Regenerative Farmer Program
Join our team of regenerative farmers.
Gain access to land, tools, infrastructure and mentorship, and launch your farm business in a supported, low risk environment.
Applications for the 2024 program have now closed.
Join our mailing list for up-to-date information on program availability!
About the Program
At Sandown, our primary goal is to support people who want to farm. The Regenerative Farmer Program aims to reduce barriers to new-entrant farmers by providing land access, tools and infrastructure, mentorship and support to help farmers hone their skills and launch their farm businesses in a low-risk environment.
Sandown offers 1/4 and 1/2 acre parcels to new-entrant farmers looking to start a farm business. We currently have 8 acres of land under cultivation, and over time will expand to bring 20 acres of the land into production.
Mentorship and Support
Sandown employs a Manager of Farm Operations, who oversees the Regenerative Farmer Program, and provides on-farm mentorship and support to the farmers. This includes business and crop plan review, trouble-shooting in the field, farmer meetings, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. The Farm Manager also co-ordinates guest mentor sessions in the early spring (before the height of the season) to support deeper learning in specific areas of interest to farmers (i.e. financial planning, integrated pest management).
Infrastructure and Tools
The program includes access to tools and infrastructure, such as a BCS, string trimmer, broad fork, Jang seeder, flame weeder, ride on mower, greenhouse, cold storage and a wash station.
Farmers are expected to learn and adhere to regenerative practices. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are not allowed. We are not certified organic but expect that organic standards are followed.
We encourage crop diversity, interplanting and hedgerows, and require that farmers cover-crop when possible. We are not a no-till farm, we practice minimal tilling and work to support farmers to learn how to minimize soil disturbance. The Manager of Farm Operations, and the community of other farmers work together to learn and understand how to best utilize these practices in the context of their individual farm plans.
There is no way around it, the land is in rough shape. We are dealing with compaction, infill of gravel and rock, loss of topsoil, poor drainage, invasive species and lack of biodiversity.
That being said, we have seen incredible improvement in the soil and biodiversity since we began in 2021. We are demonstrating that we can farm on marginalized land, and restore it - while growing food. The implications of this research are incredibly significant, given the amount of degraded farmland there is today.
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 in your farming journey.
One of our farmers has 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.
Sandown fosters a community of farmers who have their own businesses, but share space, tools, collective marketing, and support each other. If you’ve ever tried to roll out a silage tarp, you know that farming is easier with friends. It can be a lonely job at times, working in a field by yourself. Being able to look up and wave to your farm neighbour, take a lunch break together, or ask for help solving a problem, is perhaps the best thing about farming at Sandown.