The Tr’ondek Hwech’in and Yukon College plan to establish a teaching and working farm near Dawson City.
Both parties signed an agreement today at Strachan’s Farm, one of the five sites being considered for the long-term project.
The First Nation will have sole ownership of the farm, while the college will provide learning and training opportunities to residents.
The farm would also provide an opportunity for some of the college’s instructors and students to expand their research and work experience possibilities.
Dexter MacRae, the Tr’ondek Hwech’in’s director of human resources and community training, said the partnership is a dream come true for the First Nation.
“Tr’ondek Hwech’in folks have a long tradition of working on the land and have long hoped that some of the properties they own would eventually get back into sustainable farming,” he said.
“I knew this and in my capacity for the First Nation I saw that anything we could do on the land would be beneficial in many ways. It’s a win-win.”
MacRae’s vision for the site includes a number of buildings where Tr’ondek Hwech’in citizens could work as farm hands and learn more about year-round farming techniques.
Eventually, he would like to see the construction of a greenhouse and a research building with classrooms.
Besides fresh produce such as wild onions, potatoes, carrots and cabbage, the First Nation would also grow important indigenous plants and shrubs used for medicinal purposes.
“I realize that this is a long-term project and we can’t do everything in the first year,” MacRae said.
“We won’t have any structures out there by next summer, that’s for sure. But the goal is to say that we live in the North and we have a sustainable food supply. There is no source of fresh produce here in Dawson over the course of the winter.”
The First Nation hopes to be planting initial crops next summer.
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