Sri Sethuratnam: Planting Hope with FarmStart
August 23, 2013
We are at a tipping point.
So says Sri Sethuratnam, manager of farm start-ups at FarmStart, a local non-profit that encourages and supports a new generation of entrepreneurial, ecological farmers.
What Sri is referring to is that humanity is facing a convergence of energy, climate change, and water crises that will deeply impact the global food system. FarmStart’s goal is to create a new generation of resilient farmers. It runs two start-up farms in Brampton and Hamilton, and currently provides opportunities for 38 new farmers to start different farm enterprises.
Mr. Sethuratnam is a perfect example of how Canada benefits hugely from the expertise of immigrants. He arrived in Canada in 2004 with his wife and two children. The family originally landed in Markham, where they lived for about a year, and then moved to Guelph in 2005 after Sri enrolled in the Masters program in Capacity Development and Extension at the University of Guelph. He already had 20 years of experience in agriculture and farming, but felt that the Masters program would upgrade his education. He began working with FarmStart in 2008.
Because of his background in, and love for, farming, Sri faced some unique challenges as a newcomer to Canada. Sri was utterly frustrated by his experience with the settlement process because he found that there was a lack of understanding or knowledge about farming as a life path. There were no linkages between the settlement sector and farming. Often he was told to consider an entirely new career.
Since many immigrants come to Canada with farming backgrounds, Sri thinks that we are losing a massive opportunity to gain from their knowledge as they end up working in other industries. He’s hoping that we all grow in our knowledge of how to support newcomers in their quest to continue their love of farming, and thereby help them become the new generation of farmers that Canada desperately needs to grow healthy food.