Co operative farm moves to greener pastures

The owners of Wild Blue Yonder Farm are planning to move the operation to a smaller acreage closer to Whitehorse.

The owners of Wild Blue Yonder Farm are planning to move the operation to a smaller acreage closer to Whitehorse.

The current 88-hectare farm straddles two titles near Tagish in the southern lakes district.

“We’re exhausted,” said Garrett Gillespie who, with his wife Heidi Marion, runs the family farm.

“The farm is too big to manage properly and we couldn’t afford it; we had to downsize.”

The couple founded the Great Green Growers Farm Co-operative last December to raise the investment they needed to buy the farmland and necessary equipment.

Only 45 shares in the co-op were sold at $5,000 a piece. They needed to sell 86 to buy the farm with a manageable mortgage.

There was an agreement for sale, but the purchase had not yet been completed.

The decision to buy a different farm went to the co-op’s board of directors that, after debating the issue, recommended the move to its shareholders.

“Everyone was very supportive,” said Gillespie.

“They’ve been behind Heidi and me 110 per cent every step of the way.”

Wild Blue Yonder is the Yukon’s first organically regenerative farm.

The current ranch contains 48 hectares of pasture and hay fields, as well as herds of cattle and dairy goats.

Two hectares are dedicated to growing fresh organic vegetables.

The couple is looking for something around eight hectares. 

The new farm would concentrate on vegetables, small-scale animals and a greenhouse, said Gillespie.

After all, growing veggies is what the farm does best.

With this year’s bumper crop, the family farm was the biggest producer of vegetables in the Yukon.

This summer, Gillespie and Marion were bringing four pallets of vegetables to the Fireweed Market each week.

One day they sold three pallets in a single hour.

“There’s a huge demand here because it’s so hard to find fresh vegetables,” said Gillespie.

And it’s not just the allure of organics.

“The biggest demand is for produce that is fresh and locally grown — it just so happens that anyone who is producing vegetables up here is organic anyway.”

Gillespie and his family want to move closer to Whitehorse to encourage more participation in the farm.

When the farm was located on Crag Lake, near Carcross, the public was much more involved.

One year, 100 people came out for the annual harvest festival. They could glean the fields for leftover produce, which was theirs to keep.

Later, a large bonfire was built and a thanksgiving circle led by the local First Nation was followed by a potluck and live music.

Attendance dropped significantly in 2005 when the farm moved to the current location, which is farther from town.

“We have other events as well, we want people to be able to come out and see what it’s like,” he said.

“A lot of people have never been to a farm before.”

One of the benefits to co-op members is that they are able to participate in the production of their food.

A closer, smaller location for the farm will make it that much easier for members and everyone else to get involved.

It will also be more affordable.

“When we began the co-op we were looking for more members, and we still are, but now that the scale is being reduced we won’t need as much capital.”

The farmers have looked at a couple possible locations for the new farm, but won’t really decide on anything until they’ve created a strategic plan to run by the board of directors.

“We finished on a high note and there’s been overwhelming support,” said Gillespie.

“But we’re really delighted to be moving on.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read