We’re all familiar with the saying “when one door closes another one opens.”
For Andrew and Heather Finton, owners of tourism resort Sundog Retreat, it was the closing of Yukon’s borders that opened the door to new opportunities!
A growing concern about food security influenced Andrew’s decision to create Sundog Veggies, which acts as an agricultural training program for Whitehorse youth.
With the past success of their Sundog Carving Program, which morphed into the Northern Cultural Expressions Society Carving Studio & Gallery, a non-profit organization that encourages artistic expression for local youth, they wanted to build similar community collaboration and mentorship.
“The Carving Program was a really incredible experience that allowed us to directly impact our youth, so we wanted to create something else that would let us carry on with that,” Andrew explains.
“A really big key for me with this program is being able to train the next generation and provide them with the skills necessary to excel in the farming industry,” Andrew notes.
Courtesy of the hard work of local youth, the first year of the program saw more than 18,000 kilograms of vegetables harvested. Community members, Elders and local markets and stores enjoyed the fruits of their labour, as the fresh vegetables were distributed among them.
“I really loved working at Sundog last summer, it was so satisfying at the end of the season to look at all that we had done,” says participant Desiree Tamminga, who ran the market in town. What started as a field of grass and trees ended with so many vegetables that we got to sell and share with the community, it was incredible!
“I found I was rewarded for initiative and hard work, where Andrew and Heather let me take on extra responsibilities. They were both great at supporting all of us and helped us become better leaders for ourselves and for the people around us,” she adds. “I’m coming back this year and will be doing a bit of administration work, so I’m really looking forward to learning about running a business.”
As summer 2021 approaches, Sundog Retreat looks forward to another amazing season!
In the meantime, they remain open for staycationers or those looking for a comfortable space to self-isolate. You can enjoy cozy cabins, captivating wildlife and stunning sights of the northern lights.