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Can these unlikely best friends strike a deal to save the family farm? | Counting on a New Crop

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Published 2 years ago

Farmer Jim has taken shy, quiet Jon under his wing as the son he never had, and given him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take on the Giffen family legacy — Edencrest Farms. #CBCShortDocs #CountingOnANewCrop

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Sixty-six-year-old farmer Jim Giffen feared his family farm would have no successor until he met his best friend, Jon, a quiet 23-year-old electrician who secretly dreamed of one day owning a farm.

For many young people, farming doesn’t feel like a realistic career path. With all kinds of financial hurdles, it has become an impossible industry to break into. For many aging farmers, whose children may not be interested in carrying on the family legacy, the reality that their farm may be on its last legs is a hard pill to swallow.

Until Giffen met Jon, he feared he would lose Edencrest Farms. The Giffens have been a staple in the Minesing, Ontario, farming community, since the early 1900s, a fact of which Jim is very proud. With diaries from his farming ancestors dating back to 1914, Jim’s connection to his roots is strong, and his passion for the lifestyle even stronger. In fact, Jim hasn’t left the family farm in over 25 years. But with his four children uninterested in the family business, the question of who would takeover the property was left unanswered.

Then, along came Jon. Jon’s mother, a local customer of Edencrest, got her 13-year-old son his first summer job picking vegetables at the farm. From the minute he started, Jon was hooked. He loved the smell of manure just as much as he loved the smell of hay, and would seize any opportunity to drive the tractor. With each passing summer, Jon’s respect for farming and his love of Edencrest grew, and Jim noticed. A friendship began to form between the old farmer and eager, young lad.

When Jon turned 16, Jim asked him if he wanted to take over the farm, something Jon had never dared dream of. But there was one major hurdle — the capital gains tax. For Jim to transfer the farm to Jon, a non-family member, they would face a tax of half a million dollars. Neither Jon nor Jim could afford that. It seemed like the dream might be over, until they discovered an alternative, little-known option: a leasing program. Jim would sell the farm to Jon piece by piece and work with Jon, like Jim’s own father had done with him, to guide Jon into his role as the owner of Edencrest Farms.

Now Jon, nervous and excited, has applied for his first loan to start the leasing program and embark on this lifelong journey. Working two full-time jobs to pay for the land, and juggling a serious relationship, Jon has many struggles ahead of him, but with his best friend and teacher by his side, he hopes he can make both of their dreams come true.


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