This Yukon First Nation has lots to be thankful for this weekend
Carcross/Tagish First Nation farm staff have completed their first fall harvest
It's a sunny fall day at the Carcross/Tagish First Nation farm near Carcross, Yukon.
About half a dozen people are on their hands and knees, picking up the potatoes that come to the surface after a tractor has tilled the row.
They're the last potatoes of the approximately 4,000 kilograms harvested this fall.
It marks the end of the first harvest at the farm, after the First Nation government bought it last fall and moved onto the property May 1.
While the First Nation has had community gardens and a few chickens in the past, this farm on the former Branigan property is the start of the First Nation government's foray into food security and sustainability for its citizens.
Farm manager Lloyd Lintott says the impetus for starting the farm was the Alaska Highway washout in June 2012. Trucks could not deliver food and grocery store shelves grew bare.
"People just realized that maybe it's time that we start looking after ourselves in the territory a little more and producing our own healthy food instead of trucking everything up the highway," said Lintott.
"This property came up for sale and [Carcross/Tagish First Nation] was lucky enough to purchase it."
Kevin Bayne, the First Nation's community garden manager, said it's about "food sustainability," adding that much of the food is given out.
There's only one store in Carcross and its fresh produce can be found in a single cooler.
"The produce is kinda 50-50," said Bayne. "It's very expensive. It's not fresh-fresh like we have."
It's also hard for elders or families without a car to make the two-hour return trip to Whitehorse for groceries, Bayne said.
That's where the First Nation's farm comes in.
More than just potatoes
The 150 hens on the farm produce eight to 10 dozen eggs a day, said Lintott.
Some of those eggs get distributed to Carcross/Tagish First Nation elders and families on social assistance for free. Others are sold at the government's administration building for citizens and staff.
Lintott said a few are sold at the farm.
Besides potatoes and eggs, the farm has raised 500 chickens for meat, 40 turkeys, eight market hogs, seven rabbits, and 15 beehives for honey.
"Sometimes I think I haven't accomplished anything, and then someone will come along and say, 'Wow, you've done a lot,'" said Lintott.
"I have to keep telling myself that we've only been on the property since the first of May, so I guess we've done quite a bit."
But Lintott doesn't want to stop here.
He's looking at expanding into agritourism to capitalize on the hundreds of American tourists who visit Carcross each year.
A team of Canadian horses arrived at the farm in August. Lintott hopes to offer wagon and sleigh rides.
For now, Lintott is busy feeding the animals and keeping the farm running.
It's all to help feed the citizens and staff of Carcross/Tagish First Nation.