Yukon government plants new food strategy

The Yukon government wants to know what Yukoners think about its local food strategy. The draft document looks at ways of increasing local food production and consumption. Government agriculture director Tony Hill says barely 5 per cent of the food Yukoners consume is produced locally.

Local production accounts for less than 5 per cent of territorial food consumption

Produce is shown on display at the Fireweed Market in Whitehorse. (Leonard Linklater/CBC)

The Yukon government wants to know what Yukoners think about its local food strategy.

The draft document looks at ways of increasing local food production and consumption.

Government agriculture director Tony Hill says barely 5 per cent of the food Yukoners consume is produced locally.

"Most of the access comes through the farm gate or at local farmers markets," Hill said. "Some of the bigger producers are in the retail stores, but we would like to see more of that."

The strategy addresses production, processing, distribution, and consumption. The high cost of Yukon farmland, according to Hill, is a major hurdle.

He said the government is looking ways of "making land available on a low cost lease basis so we can get more food producers into production."

Starting point

Yukon's veteran growers concur. Sheila Alexandrovich has spent years teaching "wannabe" farmers. "The people I know who've gone through my farm learning how to grow food, they can't afford to go buy land, there's not a hope in ...you know," she said.
Sheila Alexandrovich says she hopes the Yukon government's agricultural strategy emphasizes the availability of farmland. (Claudiane Samson/CBC)

Alexandrovich said Yukoners used to grow more food locally. She called the draft strategy a good start.

"Growing up here every backyard had a garden, and now there is skidoos parked on top," she said. "We didn't produce the fancy food, but we ate. Growing up it was cabbages, carrots, potatoes and beets and that's what we ate, and it's fine. We have to change how we eat if we want to eat local."

The draft strategy is available on-line for comment until October.

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