North

Eggs-ellent news for Yukon 'locavores', as farm hatches new business

A Yukon farm is about to get cracking on a new business venture that will excite local food enthusiasts, or, 'locavores' — a large-scale egg operation.

Al and Cathy Stannard have 2,000 egg-laying chickens, and a plan to stock local store shelves

Al and Cathy Stannard now have 2,000 egg-laying chickens at their farm outside of Whitehorse. They expect to have their 'Little Red Hen' eggs for sale in local grocery stores within weeks. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

A Yukon farm is about to get cracking on a new business venture that will excite local food enthusiasts — or "locavores" — a large-scale egg operation.

"Our hope is to sort of augment the stuff that is coming up the highway, and eventually replace the brown, free-run, free-range eggs with a local product," said Al Stannard, who, along with his wife Cathy, operates the Mandalay Farm just outside of Whitehorse. 

"We've had discussions with most all of the grocery stores [in Whitehorse], and they're all willing to take them."

The Stannards first hatched the idea six years ago. They already had a working farm, boarding horses and making hay. They had to build a new barn and acquire new equipment to sort and grade the eggs.

'It's a new project, right, so there's always that time that you need to make sure that everything is going to go the way you think it's going to go,' said Cathy Stannard. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

They also answered the famous question about which came first: the chickens, naturally. Two thousand of them.

"Well, I mean, each chicken is technically going to lay an egg a day, so that's roughly 2,000 eggs a day," said Cathy Stannard.

"Right now, we're at about 1,500 eggs, so not everybody is producing."

There are other farms in Yukon already producing and selling eggs, but the Stannards will be doing it at a much larger scale. If all goes well, they hope to have even more laying chickens in the future.

"We had to go smaller than what we had originally envisioned, make sure everything works accordingly and that we're able to market and sell our product," Cathy said.

"It's a new project, right, so there's always that time that you need to make sure that everything is going to go the way you think it's going to go."   

There are other farms in Yukon already producing and selling eggs, but the Stannards will be doing it at a much larger scale. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

More interest in local food

"I think it's very exciting for the territory," said Brad Barton, who is with the Yukon government's agriculture branch.

He says being able to buy local eggs at more grocery stores, as opposed to having to go directly to farmers, is great for consumers.  

"I think there is a market for local eggs... I don't want to predict trends, but we're seeing a lot of interest in local food."

The Stannards had to build a new barn and acquire new equipment to sort and grade the eggs. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

The Stannards' eggs won't be in stores for a few more weeks, though. They're still waiting for necessary permits from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The eggs will likely retail for about $7 per dozen.

"It's a big undertaking, but we're excited," Cathy said.

"We really do believe in locally-sourced food and produce whenever possible, and this just is an opportunity for Yukoners to be able to get food at a local level."

With files from Cheryl Kawaja

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