No eggs for Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, egg farmer Enrica Nadalini's dreams were scrambled. She was asked to sell her organic eggs at the Fireweed Community Market's 12 Days of Christmas sale in the Old Fire Hall.

On the first day of Christmas, egg farmer Enrica Nadalini’s dreams were scrambled.

She was asked to sell her organic eggs at the Fireweed Community Market’s 12 Days of Christmas sale in the Old Fire Hall.

But before she could peddle her first dozen, territorial and federal officials cracked down on her plans.

To sell eggs, Nadalini would require a federally inspected grading station.

“I’d have to weigh the eggs to make sure they were all the same size,” she said.

“I’d need a special egg-washing machine.

“And they all need to be candled.”

Candling involves shining a special light through the eggs to make sure there are no abnormalities.

Nadalini’s Earth Wisdom Farm on the Takhini River has none of that equipment.

With only 100 chickens, it’s not feasible.

“The regulations are tailored for big, commercial, industrial egg factories,” she said.

“Not for someone with 50 to 200 hens.

“For us, it’s pretty restrictive.”

Nadalini’s chickens have it made.

They eat organic chicken feed, live in a heated barn and even have a deck where they can get fresh air.

“Although after minus 20, when I open the door they run out, their feet start to freeze and they run right back in,” she said.

Summers are spent in a huge yard outside, with fishnet spread over it to foil birds of prey.

This is Nadalini’s first year with chickens, and she’s named them all.

“The white ones are called Angelina, the brown ones are called Maria,” she said.

The five roosters all have names too.

Nadalini got into chickens because she wanted to provide local food year-round.

But the only way to sell eggs is through farm gate sales, she said.

Farm gate sales require the producer to sell the product directly to the customer, without a middleman.

This allows Nadalini to sell her eggs at the farmers’ market all summer.

But when she called the Yukon government to ask about the Christmas sale, Nadalini was told it was a no-go.

There was a cashier who handled purchases, so it was considered retail.

“It’s a very fine line,” she said.

It’s a safety consideration, said Yukon environmental health officer Benton Foster.

“Any dairy, meat and egg products are considered high risk.”

Nadalini can’t afford all the equipment she’d need to set up a federally inspected grading station.

“Even to build the actual structure with heat and water seems out of reach,” she said.

To get around it, Nadalini set up a Happy Hen Club.

Members pay a minimal fee and pre-order eggs.

Every week, Nadalini fills a fridge she rents at the Yukon-made store in Shipyards Park, and her customers come pick up their eggs when it’s convenient.

She’s selling between 30 and 35 dozen eggs a week.

But there are still about 10 dozen left over.

“That’s why I was hoping to let more people know about it by selling eggs at the Christmas market,” she said.

To help Nadalini out, the Fireweed Market bought 15 dozen eggs to give away to customers.

Nadalini matched that, donating another 15 dozen.

“They wanted to help promote my eggs,” she said.

Inside the cardboard carton, the white and brown eggs are mostly uniform, except for one extra big egg.

“That’s a double,” said Nadalini.

Next year, she’s hoping the Fireweed Christmas market will be considered an extension of the farmers’ market.

Then, she could sell her eggs.

“There is always a potential for changes,” she said.

“Regulations can be amended.

“I’m not sure how much power we have, but consumers and producers do have enormous power if we work together.”

To learn more about the Happy Hen Club go to www.earthwisdomfarm.ca.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com