Northern Farm Training Institute 2

Students at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, NWT are learning about agriculture (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A new school in Hay River, NWT is teaching farmers to harvest crops and take care of animals despite the harsh climate.

The Northern Farm Training Institute has wrapped up its first year of classes.

This year 28 students took part in six workshops.

Jackie Milne is the institute’s founder. She says the schools aims to promote self-reliance and local food production.

The goal is also to spread knowledge across the NWT as students return to their home communities.

"All the students would definitely be able to host (courses) from here on in.  They have the skills and they have the knowledge to introduce other people to these topics and they have a really comprehensive resource list. They are building libraries back home," she said.

Fred Punch is one of the students who travelled from Trout Lake, NWT.

"What I learn here, I take it back home and pass it along to the people. The younger generation,” he said.

Punch said he hopes local farming will reduce food prices.

"The store bought food, it's more expensive and they have to ship it from the South. Once it gets to Trout Lake sometimes it turns bad," he said.

The Northern Farm Training Institute includes a shelter for chickens and rabbits.

Courses include seeding crops and the science of breeding and caring for farm animals.

Milne said next year she'd like to add a workshop on fishing.

The Town of Hay River has been investing in agriculture and has plans to develop a 300-acre parcel of land.