Quinoa farmer hoping to expand crop in St. Mary's Bay

A couple in Riverhead are harvesting their quinoa crop for a third season and are hoping to expand next year.
Michael Yetman says he's hoping to get money from the provincial government to expand his quinoa crop growing in St. Mary's Bay. (CBC)

A food native to South America is taking root in St. Mary's Bay, and the man growing the popular grain quinoa is hoping to expand the crop.

Michael Yetman has two tennis-court sized plots of quinoa growing in the Riverhead community garden for a third season.

According to Yetman, he's had great success with the quinoa crop over the last three years, which came as a bit of a surprise to him.

"You can try with wheat, but it's not going to grow here and rye and barley and all these other things. Quinoa is growing, so you might as well take it," said Michael Yetman.

"And that's not such a bad thing because quinoa beats out all of these grains flat."

It may seem like an unusual crop to grow in Newfoundland, but Michael Yetman is harvesting his third quinoa crop in Riverside in St. Mary's Bay. (CBC)

It's notoriously difficult to grow produce and grains in Newfoundland's soil so the mayor of Riverhead said there's a big opportunity for expanding and establishing a larger crop.

Mayor Sheila Lee said, given the nutritional qualities of quinoa, it's definitely a welcome idea.

"The people who have an interest in it are sort of doing a bit of research through the computer, someone like myself for example, and what better food than quinoa?" she said.

"I've tried it myself, I've cooked it and I've added a lot of things to it."

Yetman is hoping to get some money from government in order to expand the current fields for the next harvest season.

However, Elisabeth Yetman said expanding her husband's quinoa crop will take more than just money.

"I think it is an absolute wonderful thing that he's doing this and in a way we need young people to come and help us because we're getting older and we cannot keep on doing it forever," she said.

The Yetmans will rely on friends and family to harvest this year's crop, as they head back to Ontario for the winter, but they hope to have the means to expand their fields for next season.

The Yetmans and CBC's Kenny Sharpe looking out over the quinoa crop nearly ready for harvest in the Riverhead community garden in St. Mary's Bay. (CBC)

With files from Kenny Sharpe


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