Whitehorse greenhouse to sell hydroponic greens, a first in Yukon

The owners of Yukon Gardens faced some challenges along the way, but their hydroponic lettuce will soon be for sale in some Whitehorse stores.

Produce should be ready and in some Yukon stores by end of month

Kelsey Metropolit of Yukon Gardens checks the progress of the hydroponic crop. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

The owners of a Whitehorse greenhouse are growing the territory's first commercially-produced hydroponic greens.

"We've gone into lettuce production and we're going with about four or five different varieties," said Yukon Gardens owner Lorne Metropolit, standing by rows of recently-potted greens in a hot greenhouse just off the Alaska Highway.

He expects his new hydroponics unit to produce a high yield in a small space, something he says is important because of the cost to heat and run a greenhouse.

​Metropolit's daughter, Kelsey — the head grower on site — says she's excited to offer customers greens that include the roots, which she says help them stay fresh longer.

But there have been challenges along the way, some of them expensive. Equipment and labour costs have added up.

"Trying to find solutions to those challenges, that's part of growing in the North. There's always the unexpected," said Kelsey.

"We thought we could do it for maybe three or four thousand [dollars]. Yeah, we're up to 25," said Lorne.

The first harvest should be ready sometime around the end of May, and the produce will be available in some local Whitehorse stores.

The Metropolits are also considering growing hydroponic greens year round.