Building Capacity for Land Matching in Alberta

By the Young Agrarians

In the spring of 2022, Caitlyn and Melissa officially launched their new farm, Good Thyme Gardens on leased land near Leduc. Caitlyn and Melissa both had farming and business experience and were looking to start their own small vegetable and herb farm to grow food for their local communities and to experiment with no-till farming.

As first-generation farmers, Caitlyn and Melissa did not know anyone who had land for lease. Luckily, a friend of theirs told them about the Young Agrarians (YA) Land Access Support and they immediately started looking at available land on the YA U-Map and blog. There, they connected with Vi, a landholder in Leduc who posted her market garden land opportunity through YA. Vi ran a market garden for over 40 years – she recently retired and was looking for people with farming experience to grow vegetables on her land. Caitlyn and Melissa were able to sign a one-year lease with Vi to farm on two acres of land and use all of the infrastructures on site for market gardening, such as the coolers, greenhouse, wash stations, harvest bins, carts, and irrigation.

Their first season has been a whirlwind with many successes. Overall, Caitlyn and Melissa are quite happy with the land access arrangement – there was minimal infrastructure investment and soil preparation (and therefore minimal risk) and the land is well suited for growing vegetables. They are also getting a lot of support from the farming community. For example, they received a big order for chive flowers for a well-known restaurant from a farming friend who couldn’t fill the order. Caitlyn and Melissa are already excited about renewing their lease for next year and are dreaming about how they’ll improve their farm operation.

The process of finding land to lease did present Caitlyn and Melissa with some challenges though. Neither Caitlyn and Melissa nor Vi had any experience writing or negotiating a lease. They found it difficult to determine what was a fair lease rate and how to structure the lease to benefit both sides. They used the lease template from YA as a starting point and tried to customize it with the help of law students at the University of Alberta, but since the students had no experience with agricultural leases they were not able to help. Caitlyn and Melissa were also not able to incorporate the lease into Vi’s estate planning, which made the arrangement less secure. They noted that it would have been beneficial to have someone that could support them in navigating this process.

The land matching program was incredibly helpful to us as we didn’t have many connections in rural communities being from the city. The program facilitated an easy connection, and the map feature was helpful for us to decide which conditions we would like to work under and compare options. It was great to have a resource person to ask questions. – Caitlyn, Good Thyme Gardens, Alberta land seeker

A major insight from this case study is the need for more support with negotiating and writing leases. To address this need YA is looking to make the Alberta Land Access Coordinator a full-time role. With increased capacity, the coordinator would be able to work with landholders and land seekers to identify goals and needs, be present for introductions and site visits to guide the conversation between both sides, facilitate lease term negotiations, write lease clauses to suit the land arrangement prior to review by a lawyer, and follow up with landholders and land seekers after they’ve been matched.

In B.C., where YA delivers a full spectrum of hands-on land matching services including lease development through the B.C. Land Matching Program, participants express that support with negotiations and agreements is the most valued aspect of the services. The program model and infrastructure is tried and true and could be implemented in Alberta to better support landholders and farmers to navigate land sharing.

For new farmers and those wishing to purchase land, the high cost of land and the difficulty of finding land for sale are major barriers. Many new farmers are also wondering how they will be able to pay for the land (often through supplemental off-farm income) and have the time to properly manage the farm.

As part of this project, YA conducted engagement sessions with rural real estate stakeholders. YA learned that both REALTORS® and farmers are concerned about this challenging situation for new farmers. They recommend picking an area to either buy or lease land and talk to as many people as possible, from bankers and local businesses to neighbours and municipal workers to help broadcast your interest, as many transactions occur off-market. To minimize start-up risk, stakeholders also suggested that new farmers start out small to optimize farm systems and figure out if they enjoy it. They can scale up once they have relationships with locals and a better understanding of how to run a farm.

REALTORS® suggested that new farmers focus on vertical integration, diverse farm products, and niche crops, like organic or whole animal butchery, and access direct-to-consumer markets whenever possible. This style of farming is aligned with how the farmers in the YA network want to approach it.


This project was funded in 2021 through the Foundation’s Development Grant Program, building on a grant from the Foundation in 2018 supporting the development of the Alberta Land Access Guide. We’re proud to support this work that supports sustainable land use planning and management, in turn benefitting the real estate industry and Albertans.

Introducing Green Building Education for Real Estate Professionals

By Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)

As an industry-leading research team, SAIT Green Building Technologies (GBT), under the Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) group with funding from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation created a series of 5 educational videos to educate real estate and other industry professionals on green building science, technologies, and best practices. With the growing demand for high-performance and green homes, this specialized and industry-relevant curriculum focuses on the knowledge needs of real estate professionals in the Alberta context.

The curriculum was informed by focus group sessions, surveys, and feedback from real estate professionals. The SAIT GBT team identified key areas of interest under the umbrella of green buildings and sustainability. The 5 videos will help increase awareness and knowledge of the environmental, financial, and building performance benefits.

A Home Evaluation: Tips & Tricks segment is included at the end of the video series to provide participants with recommendations on how to apply their newfound knowledge in conversation with homeowners. Participants can enhance their learning experience using the Learning Bites worksheets.

This project offered the SAIT GBT team valuable experiences in educational development including online focus groups, video planning, content development, media editing, and a deeper understanding of green buildings through a real estate lens. The team looks forward to future partnerships with Alberta’s real estate industry.

About Green Building Technologies
SAIT’s Green Building Technologies (GBT) team is made up of architects, environmental professionals, industrial engineering designers, and fabrication trades with credentials ranging from master tradesperson to Master’s Degrees. Their industry experience helps ensure that projects align with the needs of private sector partners, thus transforming the green building industry in Alberta. GBT is one of 6 research teams that make up the Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department at SAIT.

2022 Fall Newsletter

Welcome to the fall edition of our quarterly newsletter! In this edition, we’re excited to share that the Foundation:

  • – funded $246,990 to three projects through our Investment Grant Program in our last grant round of the year
  • – will have two Investment Grant rounds in 2023, with deadlines on April 3 and August 28
  • – has an invitation for you to join SAIT and RFS Energy Consulting to enjoy refreshments and contribute to the conversation on the impacts of remote work on the real estate industry in Alberta on Tuesday, November 22 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm on the SAIT campus in Calgary
  • – is celebrating successful projects positively impacting the real estate industry and Albertans

We share our funding opportunities and how our investments are strengthening Alberta’s communities. Subscribe to our seasonal newsletter.

2022 October Investment Grants

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $246,990 in our third round of Investment Grants of the year.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation invests in real estate policy, research, practices, and education that strengthen Alberta’s communities. Under the Real Estate Act, whenever a consumer deposits money in trust through a real estate broker, property manager, or commercial broker, the interest earned on the deposit is accumulated and forwarded to the Foundation for reinvestment into Alberta’s communities. Individually, it is nickels and dimes, but across the province it all adds up! Since 1991, the Foundation has invested $27.5 million in nearly 700 initiatives across Alberta.

Join us in celebrating the Investment Grant projects approved at the October meeting that support and advance education, research, law reform, and other activities related to real estate in Real Estate Leadership, the Built Environment, and Land:

2050 Net Zero Targets & Changing Building Codes: Implications to Existing Building Owners & Alberta Real Estate Professionals
From the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
Buildings are Canada’s third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, close to nine million buildings will require at least one deep retrofit to reduce energy consumption to the levels required to achieve net-zero goals. This means that Canada’s rate of retrofits will need to increase to 1 million dwellings retrofitted annually. Building codes and standards will be updated to expedite and drive these retrofits and these changes will be felt across Alberta’s real estate industry. This research project is the first phase of an ongoing study exploring the impacts of building code changes on homeowners, real estate professionals, and other key stakeholders.

Exploring Canada’s Interest Act & Risk in Canadian Residential Housing & Mortgage Markets
By the University of Alberta, Centre for Cities and Communities
This project will investigate the housing and residential mortgage markets in Alberta and Canada, and Section 10(1) of the Interest Act. The project hypothesizes that this section contributes to the inability of lenders to appropriately manage the interest rate risk associated with making residential mortgages with terms longer than five years and to readily access longer-term capital. The section dates from 1880 and a number of experts believe it should be revised. This research will provide a detailed basis for revisions to the Interest Act and will conduct research to compare the Canadian and U.S. markets and include economic modeling of the impact on default risk in the Canadian mortgage markets during periods of interest rate volatility.

Indigenous Pathways Program
By the University of Calgary, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL)
Canada’s real estate-related industries have signaled their commitment to undertake the truth and reconciliation process and embrace a diversity of thought in addressing the pressing and monumental challenges of our times including climate change, sustainability and environmental stewardship, social justice, population aging, public health, and wellness. The aim of the proposed Indigenous Pathways Program is to educate and empower Indigenous students to become future leaders in real estate-related industries and to expose non-Indigenous students to Indigenous perspectives so that they can incorporate these learnings into their practices.


Explore our Projects page for more Foundation-funded initiatives.

Join the conversation about the impacts of remote work on the real estate industry

By Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and RFS Consulting

We need your voice

The evolution of the real estate industry in the wake of the pandemic is closely tied to the impacts of remote work. Our project focuses on research and communication on a wide variety of emerging topics related to remote work, such as those mentioned above.

We need your help to ask the right questions – and start hearing the answers. We are looking to connect with real estate professionals willing to share how telework has impacted their business, their approach, and their views.

Please join the research team at SAIT on Tuesday, November 22 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm for refreshments and a conversation on the impacts of remote work on the real estate industry in Alberta. Your opinion matters!

Please RSVP by November 20, 2022 to Alexandra Kodyra at

Identifying local trends around remote work in Alberta

There is an old chestnut in real estate (presumably from a lovely chestnut tree in a large backyard near a good school): it’s all about ‘location, location, location’. To which we would like to add: location (of your work).

As we all know all too well, telework (aka work-from-home, remote work, hybrid work) took root during the many waves of the Covid pandemic. In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that 32% of Canadians were working from home and a full 80% were interested in continuing this practice post-pandemic.

The shift to telework is a relatively new phenomenon and it is still uncertain to what degree it will become the norm, so we are hoping to identify some local trends and best practices happening in Alberta to inform future planning or sales strategies. At this point in time, determining the right questions to ask is as important as looking for answers.

That’s why SAIT and RFS Consulting set out to research the impacts of telework on the Alberta real estate industry. Earlier this year, we were fortunate to be awarded funding from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation for the Telework Impacts on the Real Estate Industry in Alberta project. It will investigate changes taking place in Albertan communities as more people work from home post-COVID with a focus on commercial & residential real estate market trends and related implications to suburban areas and downtown cores.

Why this research

Whether you are camp ‘telework’ or camp ‘get back to the office’, what seems clear nearing the end of 2022 is that telework is here to stay in some hybrid form. Telework is a hot topic as employers across Alberta struggle to strike the right balance between offering staff flexibility while fostering in-person relationship building.

And of course, where people work has a direct – and deep – impact on the real estate industry. It changes what companies and residents are looking for in homes and offices. It changes the customer-base of businesses in the downtown core and the amenities needed in suburban and urban communities. For real estate professionals, there are both challenges and opportunities.

If you have any comments or questions please contact Melanie Ross at


This project was funded in 2021 as part of the Foundation’s one-time 30th Anniversary Legacy Grant Program: Telework Impacts on the Real Estate Industry in Alberta