Growing Strong: Support for New Farmers Cultivating Provincial Agriculture Sector

9/10/2021 12:23:28 PM

The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Honourable Derrick Bragg, Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, were in Reidville today, to learn how new farmers Robbie and Chantille Coles are successfully growing their farm, and to announce a pilot project with College of the North Atlantic (CNA) that will continue supporting future generations of new farmers.  

The Provincial Government is working with CNA to award a five-year lease for 40 acres of agricultural land in Reidville that will support the college’s Agriculture Technician (Co-op) program. As a result of this initiative, students in the coming years will have the opportunity to develop and farm the land, and to market their crops to gain hands-on experience in the technical and business aspects of building an agriculture enterprise. Forest Resources Technician students may also benefit from this partnership with potential opportunities to plan, harvest and manage timber removed during the land-clearing process.

The farm property is located near Rocky River Farms, the site of the province’s first large-scale agricultural land development pilot. The Coles family started the farm from scratch as new entrepreneurs in 2018. With support from federal and provincial funding opportunities, they have steadily expanded their business to a full-time venture, clearing land for fruit and vegetable production, and constructing a greenhouse and cold storage facility. These investments ensure vegetables are stored safely, with a more consistent supply of crops available to sell in the Coles’ on-farm market and in other local markets.

Since 2017-18, 89 new farming entrants in Newfoundland and Labrador have received funding for agriculture projects. Land development initiatives, CNA’s Agriculture Technician (Co-op) program, and funding opportunities for new and existing farmers support the Provincial Government’s commitment to strengthen Newfoundland and Labrador’s agriculture sector and double food-self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetable production to 20 per cent by 2022.

“A strong agriculture sector is vital to the health and security of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. This is how our industry grows – by providing opportunities for new farmers like the Coles to secure support for new ventures, and enabling seasoned farmers to explore innovative ways to expand their operations. People like Robbie and Chantille Coles are proof that this sector is in capable hands. I look forward to seeing more new farmers from CNA’s Agriculture Technician (Co-op) program following their lead and embarking on careers in our agriculture sector.”
Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

Thanks to the dedication of hard-working farmers like the Coles, we are well on our way to meeting our commitment to increase Newfoundland and Labrador’s food self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables from 10 per cent to 20 per cent by 2022. These farmers have come a long way in a very short time, and they are building an impressive business, literally from the ground up. Robbie and Chantille are great role models for the new crop of farmers preparing to join our province’s agriculture sector as part of CNA’s Agriculture Technician (Co-op) program.”
Honourable Derrick Bragg
Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture

“College of the North Atlantic has been extremely supportive of the natural resources in our province, such as agriculture and forestry. We have worked closely with government and various sector partners to identify and fill labour gaps, develop industry-responsive curriculum, as well as diversify and expand skills and employment opportunities. Since launching our Agricultural Technician (Co-op) program in 2019, it has been met with tremendous success. Our enrolment has been strong from the start and we do not expect that to waver any time soon. We are producing quality graduates that are in demand, here at home and abroad. This lease announcement can be a major boost for our students to gain even more hands-on, practical experience that will carry over well into the future of this province’s sustainable industry.”
Elizabeth (Liz) Kidd
CNA President & CEO

“When our family took on this venture in 2018, we knew it had great potential. Over the past three years, we have seen that potential grow from possibility to reality. We have built more than just a farm here – we have created partnerships with other farmers and producers, established a community network that provides fresh, local products, and secured a livelihood for our family that enabled me to commit to agriculture full time. We have worked hard to get here, and we are thrilled to contribute to self-sufficiency here at home.”
Robbie Coles
Rocky River Farms


Learn more

Agriculture Programs and Funding

Canadian Agricultural Partnership – Provincial program  

College of the North Atlantic Agriculture Technician (Co-op) program

Land for Agriculture

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Media contacts
Meghan McCabe
Office of the Premier

Linda Skinner
Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture
709-637-2284. 632-8167

Michelle Barry
Communications Manager
College of the North Atlantic

Robbie Coles
Rocky River Farms