Growing and selling Yukon greens

Every Monday afternoon, the basement at Alpine Bakery fills up with organic fruit and veggies. In the brightly-painted cold cellar, workers sort the produce into several dozen bags for customers to pick up on Tuesday morning.

Every Monday afternoon, the basement at Alpine Bakery fills up with organic fruit and veggies. In the brightly-painted cold cellar, workers sort the produce into several dozen bags for customers to pick up on Tuesday morning.

The Organic Produce Club’s smooth-running system has been in place for years, but late last month something was different.

For the first time, all the vegetables in each of the bags was grown in Yukon soil.

It’s an accomplishment that Alpine Bakery owner Suat Tuzlak couldn’t be more proud of.

“It means less pollution, less farmers are exploited by big corporate farms,” Tuzlak said.

“We have $4,000 to $5,000 in invoices per week. This makes me so happy because that money goes towards local organic farmers,” he said.

The program started as a way to support local farmers and provide access for Yukoners wanting to eat organic food, said Tuzlak, but at first it was a challenge to source Yukon-grown produce.

As farming has grown in the territory, however, more farms are able to provide produce at sustainable, marketable prices, and the amount of Yukon-grown food in each basket has been steadily growing.

“One can live on this. It’s possible to live on more than caribou, moose and cranberries in the Yukon. We bring more exotic foods that people might like to try. Some people are used to only potatoes and carrots. It has also a deep meaning because it is gentle to the earth,” he said.

The produce baskets come in two sizes. A bag of veggies and fruit to feed two people for a week costs about $55 depending on the contents, which vary with the season. For about $85, a family of four can eat organically for a week.

In an average week’s basket, customers will get a collection of organic fruit and veggies, along with a card telling them exactly where their food came from and a suggested recipe for the goodies.

In last week’s basket, there were apples, fair trade bananas, kiwis, and nectarines. The local food included greens and scallions from Elemental Farms, basil from the Northern Fireweed Raven Garden, carrots from Zakus Farm and summer squash and cucumber from Earth Wisdom Farm.

All of those are local producers who need support, said Tuzlak, and his program is a way to help deliver it.

“The way Monsanto and others, for money making, the way they are abusing and literally killing our earth, here is something, maybe modest, that can help. For Whitehorse’s size, it’s pretty good,” Tuzlak said.

Enrica Nadalini runs Earth Wisdom Farm with her partner, Peter Zimmerman.

Having a program like the produce club helps farmers like her reach customers they might not otherwise get.

“I think it’s excellent,” Nadalini said.

“It’s very important not only for raising awareness in the Yukon that there actually are producers growing local food, but also for those producers to have an outlet.”

Nadalini and Zimmerman have been growing organic food for the past five years, and bringing it to market for the past three.

As well as the produce club, they also bring their food to the Fireweed Market, the fruit stand on Black Street and Riverside Grocery.

She said the idea of organic food grew out of a desire to help Yukoners access healthier options and protect northern food security.

“We had an agricultural piece of land, and we wanted to contribute to food production in the Yukon. That was the driving force. First we started with a garden for ourselves, so we could harvest our own foods. We thought, well, we could try to sell some of this and we expanded from there. We are very vulnerable, having to constantly bring food up the highway – the more food that we can produce locally, the better,” she said.

Getting people engaged and passionate about where their food comes from is one of the most important accomplishments of the produce club, Nadalini said.

“Those people are making a conscious decision to support a program like that. They know they are getting organic food, the best that is available local food. Those are people who already understand the importance of that program,” she said.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

City of Whitehorse staff will report back to city council members in three months, detailing where efforts are with the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2024. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council adopts wildfire risk reduction plan

Staff will report on progress in three months

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 25, 2020

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Most Read