Harvest Time in Yukon

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 10th, 2014
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources

As Thanksgiving approaches and the snow begins to fall, we’re reminded that the long days of summer are behind us. Now is the time to prepare for the winter season. Autumn is also a great time to be thankful for the hard work of Yukon farmers and the bounty of the land.

Many of you enjoyed the Fireweed Community Market Society’s summertime outdoor markets. Through increased funding from the Canada-Yukon Growing Forward 2 program this year, we were able to enjoy this bustling community enterprise twice a week over the summer months.

A favourite of locals and visitors alike, the Fireweed Market offers a wide variety of delicious local greens, artisanal cheeses, decadent baked goods, bedding plants, Yukon-made arts and crafts, and useful workshops. If you missed out on attending the summer market, not to worry — the Yukon-Made store is open year-round and the 12 Days of Christmas Market is right around the corner.

Besides the delicious food, one of the great pleasures of going to markets such as Fireweed — or visiting the many other wonderful Yukon government-supported community gardens in Dawson City, Carmacks, Burwash Landing, Haines Junction, Old Crow and Carcross — is talking with the farmers, bakers, artists
and crafts people who produce the goods. On behalf of our government, I want to express my gratitude to these local producers for helping to put sustainable, healthy food on Yukon tables.

Yukon farmers were able to double the number of acres in orchards in the summer of 2014 – with the new plantings primarily being the hardy haskap berry. A member of the honeysuckle family originating in Siberia, haskaps are proving to be highly adaptable to Yukon. These tangy little purple berries are high in various nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, fibre and potassium, and are finding their way into all sorts of dishes and drinks both sweet and savoury.

Local root vegetables also enjoyed a high profile this harvest season as many schools participated in the From the Ground Up fundraiser. Like the Fireweed Market, From the Ground Up is supported by your Yukon government through Growing Forward 2 and the Department of Health and Social Services. Children from participating schools sold approximately 3,500 boxes of healthy, locally-grown vegetables. That equals about 50,000 pounds of beets, carrots, cabbage, potatoes and turnips! Through their efforts, the students raised approximately $45,000 and collected 437 boxes of vegetables for various community organizations.

As a government, we are proud to support Yukon farmers and other agricultural entrepreneurs, and we celebrate the vital role they play in supporting the health and well being of Yukon families. My department and your Yukon government will always stand up for the agri-food sector — keeping it competitive and resilient. We will continue to seek innovative ways to give local food producers more opportunity to bring their wholesome products to Yukon tables.

Scott Kent
Minister of Energy Mines and Resources