From Trust to Partnership: How Avenue Living Does Farmland Investment

A focus on partnership underpins our successful Canadian farmland investment strategy and has been key to fostering relationships with about 90 tenant-operators across Saskatchewan.

Avenue Living Agricultural Land Trust is now winding down with a fixed sunset date. In response to investor demand, the firm is looking to replicate that success through its new Tract Farmland Partners Limited Partnership.

“Our partnerships with farmers demonstrate our commitment to their success while establishing ourselves as a reliable buyer in the farming community,” says Leif Snethun, CEO of Tract Farmland Partners LP. “They’re business-minded and sophisticated, and I’m honoured to be associated with them as they shape the future of Canadian agriculture.”

Learn more about our newest fund, Tract Farmland Partners:

Harvesting Alpha in Canada’s Agricultural Heartland

Investing in Canadian Farmland

For investors seeking to diversify away from the public markets, the case for investing in Canadian farmland is all too clear. And with our sights set on Canada’s breadbasket, it’s an opportunity that’s been growing for over half a decade. 

“We launched the Avenue Living Agricultural Land Trust in December 2016,” says Gabriel Millard, SVP, Capital Markets – Equity & Research at Avenue Living Asset Management. “From its inception up to now, it has performed well for our investors, and we’ve seen a significant and increasing demand for the strategy.” 

Harvesting returns 

Since 2016, the fund’s portfolio has grown to 83,000 acres of farmland across Saskatchewan, with historical annual returns consistently above 10%.  

“Within the farming community, a lot of operators look for opportunities to expand. They often don’t have access to the capital required to acquire neighbouring parcels when they come up for sale. Others are looking to exit, and don’t have heirs or successors to buy them out of the business,” Millard explains. “We leverage our considerable capital resources to acquire productive, arable farmland in Saskatchewan, which we rent to farmland operators and help them to expand their businesses.” 

The Avenue Living Agricultural Land Trust has a fixed sunset date within the next two years and we’re looking to replicate its success with our new fund, Tract Farmland Partners LP.  

“We wanted to give investors a way to keep benefitting from our experience with Saskatchewan farmland, as well as our active management capabilities in the agricultural space,” Millard says.  

Our approach to farmland is led by Leif Snethun, the CEO of the Avenue Living Agricultural Land Trust, and Tract Farmland Partners LP. Snethun comes from a proud tradition of Canadian farming. His father was the youngest of five boys raised on a farm in east-central Alberta. That farm was homesteaded by Snethun’s grandparents, who immigrated from Norway. With help from his wife, Snethun owns a cow-calf operation west of Stavely, Alberta and helps his younger brother operate the near-by family farm. 

Sowing seeds for future alpha 

“The average urban person can’t imagine the size of the farmland parcels we deal with in the portfolio. 83,000 acres equates to almost 130 square miles,” he says. “With that said, it’s easy to understand why our farmland managers can’t possibly know the specific nuances of the portfolio of land the way our tenant-operators do.” 

To maximize alpha, Snethun and his team actively encourage tenants to come forward with land improvement ideas. Through investments in land reclamation and remediation, and the construction of strategic grain storage facilities, we add direct value to our portfolio and improve tenant farming efficiencies. These improvements mean the tenant is able and willing to pay increased rents. 

“We’ve earned a great reputation in the community,” Snethun says. “I believe that there’s no other form of real estate where the tenant and the landlord are so aligned. Our tenants are financially motivated to look after the land like it was their own as that is how they maximize crop yields.” 

According to Millard, the new strategy leverages the same economics that makes farmland appealing, along with our proven management capabilities and reputation in the agricultural space. 

“Over the six years we’ve spent running our Agricultural Land Trust, we’ve developed a track record of being able to close land acquisition deals on time with farmers, which provides important liquidity for them,” he says.  

Returns generated through our farmland model have the potential to be boosted through a judicious use of leverage. Despite having similar soil characteristics as farmland in neighbouring provinces such as Alberta and Manitoba, Saskatchewan farmland trades at over a 30% discount. 

“With the Federal government’s interest in food supply and security, farmers in Canada benefit from added stability through crop insurance,” Millard adds. “This creates a layer of protection for our tenant-operators in case they suffer adverse weather conditions or other occurrences that negatively impact their crop yields.” 

Favourable tailwinds 

Globally, the case for investing in farmland is gathering strength from several macroeconomic tailwinds. Urbanization is playing a part in the depletion of farmland acres. Over the decades, arable farmland area has shrunk from 5.6 acres per capita in 1961 to 1.2 acres per capita as recently as 2016 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAOSTAT), 2021). 

There’s also pressure from the growing global population, which officially topped eight billion last year.  As more countries enter a period of economic prosperity in the coming decades, the World Bank forecasts an increase in the average daily caloric intake among developing nations, with citizens’ dietary preferences shifting toward higher-value, more calorie-dense foods such as meat.  

Because of limited supply and the prohibitive cost of meat products, import-dependent markets may turn to pulse crops – including legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans – as nutritionally equivalent alternatives. The Canadian Prairies stand as the largest exporter of lentils, peas, and chickpeas in the world today. Within Canada, around 90% of lentils and 50% of pea production originates from Saskatchewan (Government of Saskatchewan, 2021). 

“According to the Government of Saskatchewan, the province accounts for more than 40% of the cultivated farmland in Canada,” Millard says. “It’s a critical piece of Canada’s food production capacity, and critical to helping fill the growing global food supply gap.” 

Historically, farmland has proven to be a strong inflation hedge, with annual returns outpacing gains in the CPI over the past 30 years. That trend is set to continue as demand grows and a breakdown in supply chains throws the world into a new commodities supercycle. 

“Increases in commodity prices tend to correlate with revenue increases for farming operators as well as generating more investor demand for farmland. As the price of each acre of farmland increases, so does the value of the asset,” Millard says. “Even in years where CPI is negative, we’ve historically seen positive farmland returns.” 

Investing in farmland also provides diversification, as its return performance is generally uncorrelated to other asset classes. Saskatchewan’s expansive terrain encompasses a variety of weather patterns, allowing Avenue Living to capture a wide continuum of crops and crop yields. 

“Right now, our farmland ownership is scattered throughout the arable portion of Saskatchewan,” Snethun says. “We’ve witnessed a massive change in people’s awareness and interest in the agricultural space over the past three years, and we’re very excited to be part of that wave.” 


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAOSTAT). (2021). FAOSTAT. Retrieved from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States:  

Government of Saskatchewan. (2021). Saskatchewan Agriculture Exports 2021. Retrieved from Government of Saskatchewan: 

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

This Year’s Most-Read: Our Top Content in 2022

We’ve gathered the blog posts, articles, and white papers that garnered the most interest from our readers last year. They cover a diverse range of topics, from our partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank to the complexities of the private rental housing market, but they all come back to one thing: understanding the real estate investment landscape. As investors seek opportunity in a changing market, it’s important to explore and analyze the fundamentals that impact our industry to refine our strategy and provide value for our residents, our investors, and the communities in which we operate.



This announcement is the next step in our commitment to ESG — one we officially started when we began a relationship with PRI (Principles for Responsible Investing). Our partnership with Canada Infrastructure Bank will allow us to undertake capital improvements that reduce our carbon footprint and provide comfortable homes for our residents, without compromising affordability.


RE-EXAMINING A HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION: Multi-family Residential Real Estate 

This paper examines the effects inflation and rising interest rates have on affordability, and how investors may find opportunities in multi-family real estate. 



Our founder and CEO, Anthony Giuffre, collaborated with the University of Regina’s Dr. Grant Wilson on this examination of the North American rental housing market, identifying the lifestyles, demographics, and value propositions that make up six major groups in the housing spectrum. The peer-reviewed paper was published in the International Real Estate Review in April 2022. 



This white paper explores how diversification in real estate portfolios — across asset types and markets — can enhance value for investors, helping them minimize risk and maximize the potential for returns. 



We examined factors that make the workforce housing market an attractive investment opportunity and  why it’s the focus of our multi-family strategy.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Avenue Living’s 2022 Year in Review

In 2022, Avenue Living grew in more ways than one. In addition to expanding our footprint and operations with new offices in Toronto and Dallas, we improved our customer satisfaction through active management, invested in technology, and elevated our ESG efforts.  We’re also entering our third year as signatories for PRI and since signing on, we have partnered with the CIB to sustainably retrofit nearly half of our multi-family portfolio. In 2023, we look forward to commencing phase one of the project and making a positive impact. 

How Avenue Living’s formidable 2022 provides solid base for 2023

With a cycle-tested business model and a steadfast commitment to the everyday, Avenue Living continued to make great strides.

In 2022, accelerating inflation and rising interest rates created a challenging investment environment, with negative returns flashing across the asset spectrum. Still, that didn’t stop Avenue Living’s 16-year growth streak.

After ending 2021 with just over $3.1 billion in total assets under management (AUM), the organization grew by 48% to reach $4.6 billion AUM. It achieved broadly diversified growth across its multi-family apartment, farmland, and self-storage real estate portfolios — all while staying true to its strategy of investing in the everyday.

“It speaks to the durability of Avenue Living’s business model across multiple market cycles,” says Gabriel Millard, SVP, Capital Markets – Equity & Research. “2008 (GFC) and 2014 (Commodity Crisis) were lost years for many other players, but they were periods of growth for Avenue Living as we leaned into the opportunities. 2022 was another very formative year for us.”

A win-win in the multi-family residential space

Avenue Living entered the apartment space as owner-operators in 2006 with a relentless focus on the resident experience. The company has continued to grow while offering an institutional level of service to those who call its buildings home. A pivotal strategic development was the establishment of the Avenue Living Real Estate Core Trust, which has grown into the first North American Workforce Housing Fund in just five years. Today, Avenue Living’s residential portfolio includes over 15,000 multi-family suites across 3 Canadian provinces and 5 U.S. states.

While headlines around real estate investments tend to revolve around high-growth markets — the likes of Toronto and Vancouver — Avenue Living leans into moderate growth markets, such as the Prairie provinces, where assets are valued at a relative discount. Its vertically integrated business model has also allowed it to control operational costs.

Those factors have enabled Avenue Living to responsibly raise rents in pace with higher inflation and interest rates, without hurting residential stakeholders. “We’re achieving our targeted returns while still maintaining affordability for our residents,” Millard says. “We’ve seen collections improve, occupancy continued to tick up, and we have wait lists at over 100 of our buildings.”

Growing opportunity in Canada’s breadbasket

Meanwhile, Avenue Living’s farmland holdings have expanded from 49,000 acres of Saskatchewan farmland at the end of 2021, to over 83,000 acres today. 

In terms of global output, Canadian farmland represents a large portion of durum wheat, peas, and other important base crops. Saskatchewan is a big piece of the agricultural puzzle, as it accounts for approximately 40% of the cultivated acres in Canada.

“We’re witnessing a breakdown in the global food supply chain,” Millard says. “Canada has a real opportunity to be a world leader in ensuring food security.”

With a history of outperforming inflation over the past 30 years, farmland is also growing more attractive as a diversifying asset class. That’s bolstering Avenue Living’s bullish view on Saskatchewan farmland, which remains at a steep discount compared to neighbouring provinces.

Great strides in self-storage

The Mini Mall Storage Properties Trust has also cemented itself as a premier player in the secondary and tertiary markets of North America’s self-storage industry.
From just over 2 million square feet at the end of 2021, the trust has grown to nearly 6 million square feet of self-storage space. That expansion was partly driven by Avenue Living’s ability to introduce its proprietary technology stack and operating expertise into all the new locations it enters.

“A lot of innovation has happened in the primary downtown, new-development segment of self-storage over the past decade,” Millard says. “We’re taking that approach and applying it to older legacy-run assets that have traditionally operated as mom-and-pop, cash-and-paper businesses.”

Avenue Living is pushing for more growth through a new office in Dallas, where it has hired key industry leaders in the self-storage landscape.

“Our expansion into Texas has taken us from a smaller, scrappy Alberta-based company into a truly North American player,” Millard says. Mini Mall Storage is now a top 25 self-storage operator in North America.

More milestones

Above the 49th parallel, Avenue Living has arrived on Bay Street with a new Toronto office. With that new foothold in Canada’s financial hub, the company is positioned to further reinforce and broaden its capital base in the years to come.

With about $160 million in expenditures made toward capital improvements in its residential properties, Avenue Living is also sharpening its focus on maintaining a superior resident experience and providing great customer service.

After becoming a PRI signatory in 2021, the company is doubling down on sustainability through a partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which includes a $150-million co-investment on deep energy retrofits on its older-style multi-family assets.

“Real estate – especially older stock properties – represents a significant portion of GHG emissions in Canada,” Millard says. “Our goal is to reduce GHG emissions by at least 49% through deep energy retrofits”.

Leveraging its unique perspective on workforce housing, Avenue Living has also published industry-leading papers and research. That includes a peer-reviewed paper on the residential housing spectrum, which unpacks the nuances of typical renter demographics, as well as their needs in terms of rental housing.

“We’ve published a number of white papers on the importance of affordability, and how a changing cost of capital affects real estate across different markets and asset classes,” Millard says. “We’re really solidifying ourselves as thought leaders within the industry, while continuing to advocate for our residents and provide value for our investors.”

The way forward

Avenue Living has built a strong capital stack. Coupled with a diversified equity base and the use of longer term, fixed-rate debt instruments, Avenue Living is focusing on innovation and investment to ensure strong same-door performance and operations in 2023. It also plans to continue focusing on active property management to deliver the best possible results for residents and investors alike.

“We’re heading into a world with a lot of dark clouds, but we’re seeing opportunities in the market. We’re in a defensible position, and we are aiming to take advantage of any disruptions that may come,” Millard says. “2023 is going to be an interesting year globally, and a very exciting year for Avenue Living.”

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.

Avenue Living Wins Gold in 12th Annual Best in Biz Awards

The organization demonstrates a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and customer service excellence. 

Calgary, Alberta – December 7, 2022 – Avenue Living Asset Management (“Avenue Living”) has been named a gold winner for Company of the Year – Canada by the Best in Biz Awards. 

By investing in the everyday and adding value to its properties, expanding the organization’s footprint, and focusing on its workforce and brand advantage, Avenue Living has demonstrated the ability to be defensible, stable, and strategic in its daily operations and long-term vision to drive value for its customers and stakeholders.  

The 12th annual Best in Biz Awards saw more than 700 entries from public and private companies of all sizes and represents diverse industries and regions in the U.S. and Canada, ranging from global brands to the most innovative start-ups and local companies. This year’s judges highlighted the winning companies’ visionary leadership, innovative strides in the use of new technologies, and the adoption of workplace best practices. Many winners also continued to invest in environmental and corporate social responsibility programs. 

“We’re incredibly proud of the resilience our team and organization showed throughout 2022,” says Jason Jogia, chief investment officer of Avenue Living. “Being named a gold winner for Company of the Year by the Best in Biz Awards is a testament to our team’s commitment to excellence and sustainability in the multi-family industry.” 

Since the program’s inception in 2011, winners of the Best in Biz Awards have been determined by independent judging panels assembled from some of the most respected national and local newspapers, TV and radio outlets, and business, consumer, technology, and trade publications in North America. The 2022 judging panel included, among others, writers from AdWeek, Computerworld, Forbes, The Globe & Mail, Inc., The Oregonian, and Portland Tribune. 

“The depth and breadth of this year’s nominees in Best in Biz Awards – and especially the winners – demonstrate savvy business acumen among the leadership and represent the type of entrepreneurship powering today’s economy,” said Dustin Klein, Smart Business, judging his first Best in Biz Awards competition.

After reviewing hundreds of submissions, the judges were impressed with Avenue Living’s growth, both in terms of employee numbers and assets under management. They highlighted Avenue Living’s focus on serving all stakeholders, including offering new features such as integrated payments through its fin-tech platform, Zenbase. Its resident retention and Google reviews clearly showcase how this has resulted in high resident satisfaction. In addition, the panel emphasized Avenue Living’s commitment to sustainability and its involvement in the United Nations-supported organization, Principles of Responsible Investment, to spearhead environmental retrofits, implement smart solutions, and update aging assets. 

For a full list of gold, silver and bronze winners in Best in Biz Awards 2022, visit:  

About Avenue Living Asset Management 

Founded on the principle of investing in the everyday, Avenue Living focuses on opportunities that are often overlooked by others, having grown to $4.25 billion CAD in aggregate assets under management across four private real estate investment mandates. The Avenue Living team includes over 900 professionals with expertise in real estate operations and transactions, property management, research, investment origination, and capital markets, as well as a suite of subject matter experts to support Avenue Living’s growing portfolio of multi-family residential, commercial, agricultural land, and self-storage assets. In addition to 15,000 multi-family units located in Canada and the United States, Avenue Living and its related entities own over 496,500 square feet of commercial space, 82,900+ acres of productive farmland, and more than 5 million square feet of self-storage space.   

About Best in Biz Awards 

Since 2011, Best in Biz Awards has been the only independent business awards program judged by a who’s who of prominent reporters and editors from top-tier publications from North America and around the world. Over the years, judges in the prestigious awards program have ranged from Associated Press to the Wall Street Journal and winners have spanned the spectrum, from blue-chip companies that form the bedrock of the global economy to some of the world’s most innovative start-ups and nimble local companies. Each year, Best in Biz Awards honors are conferred in two separate programs: North America and International, and in 100 categories, including company, team, executive, product, and CSR, media, PR and other categories. For more information, visit: 

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.