Urban Shepherd Program

Since 2007, a major population shift happened in the world. It was that year that there saw more people have living in urban areas than in rural countryside. 

This presents a number of challenges for teaching future farmers in Canada. While the popularity of growing of vegetables, mushrooms, and even bees in cities is growing, we still rely on a number of farming practices that are only done in the countryside. 


The reason for this are varied and include amount of space needed, water quality, and ease of machinery use. Regardless of the reason, some agriculture is rurally rooted.

Those that are newcomers, young people, or are interested in agriculture as a career have many barriers to cross if they want to become farmers. 

Land access, financing, and housing are all barriers to begin a career in agriculture. Livestock farming is a unique vocation that is so much more than a 9-5 job. Working with animals is very appealing to many, but there are few resources to learn how to outside of agricultural or working on a farm. 

Agricultural colleges aren't for everyone. There are many reasons why an aspiring farmer couldn't enroll in college. This could be due to age, housing, family commitment, or so many other reasons. 

Many new farmers today are not from traditional farm families. These aspiring farmers are bringing new ideas, methods, and international knowledge to the farming. One of the biggest challenges is getting experience in a safe and stable way that doesn't involve turning one's life upside down to make minimum wage in a strange place away from all of the new farmer's support systems. 


The Urban Shepherd Initiative is different in that it's bringing the animals to the people, instead of the people to the animals. Through the support of schools, businesses, and communities we are bringing sheep into the city. 

Sheep are the ideal animals to bring into city centres. They are quiet, easy to manage, and are excellent lawnmowers for conservation and biodiversity grazing. 

Sheep do need shepherds. Sheep need to be monitored and checked in on daily, or more. It's challenging for a rural farmer to travel in 1 or 2x a day to check in on the sheep. 

The Urban Shepeherd Program instead, finds peopel that want to learn about caring for sheep. By being an Urban Shepherd they are taught how to care for sheep close to home. It is similar to an apprenticeship in that the learning is practical and over time. If the Urban Shepherd finds that they want to continue, they have hand's on experience in caring for livestock and can take further steps with the knowledge that they have chosen the right path for themselves.

The vision for the Urban Shepherd Program is for a shepherd to have their own flock during the grazing season in an urban area. They would travel the city, grazing factory lawns, solar sites, and controlling weeds in the area. Once the grazing season is finished, the flock would return to the "home" farm outside the city. 

 This arrangement is beneficial to the farmer and the Urban Shepherd. The yield from the sheep can be either sold or donated to communities in need.