Growing year-round, north of 60

·3 min read
Self-described
Self-described

Longtime Yukon resident Lorrina Mitchell has done a lot of research into the perfect type of tomato to grow in the dark winter months inside her home.

She came across a type of micro dwarf seeds that she says will grow about 18 to 24 inches tall, producing cherry-sized tomatoes.

Mitchell says she now has has 19 varieties and about a 20-year supply of seeds.

"There's nothing in the winter that makes you happier than to see something growing if it can produce your own food," she said.

Mitchell is one of many year-round farmers in Canada's territories who are eager to share their success stories.

Her plan is to be able to get the right rotation in place so that she'll have tomatoes growing year-round. She estimates having spent around $500 on her hobby over the past five to seven years on two tabletop gardens, plus another $100 or so on seeds.

Submitted by Lorrina Mitchell
Submitted by Lorrina Mitchell

"I'm hoping this experiment just leads to the average home gardener being able to grow a few plants through the winter and get the both physical and psychological enjoyment from it," she said.

Growing year round is a growing businesses in the North.

Tarek Bos-Jabbar is the CEO of Cold Acre, a Whitehorse-based company that grows food in shipping containers using hydroponic units, and sells customized units to people as well as larger scale ones for communities in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Bos-Jabbar expects the business to triple its growing volume this winter, with a focus on leafy greens and herbs.

Submitted by Cold Acres
Submitted by Cold Acres

"We believe that the technology is there now, it's available, we can all grow year round, we can all start being a little more self-reliant and so we're trying to help communities tackle that and become more self-sufficient," he said.

Bos-Jabbar said the recent flooding in British Columbia shows just how brittle the supply chain is, leaving some grocery shelves running out of produce. Whatever his business can grow locally he said, will be better for the environment — and taste better. Plus, on the economic side, he said they're providing jobs and "keeping money in the Yukon."

"We're the end of the line, and so whatever we can produce locally is going to be way better for the environment."

Cold Acres/ Gary Bremner/GBP Creative
Cold Acres/ Gary Bremner/GBP Creative

Not everyone agrees.

"I find it craziness to tell you the truth, to expect that we're going to eat fresh greens all winter long, it doesn't even make sense," said Sheila Alexandrovich, who owns Wheaton River Garden, a community supported agricultural model based about 65 kilometres outside of Whitehorse.

"It doesn't add up for me at all," she said.

"The energy that goes into running sea cans full of greens in the middle of winter, what are we doing? You know, it just seems crazy."

Submitted by Sheila Alexandrovich
Submitted by Sheila Alexandrovich

Alexandrovich, who lives off-grid, said in the wintertime, she doesn't buy vegetables, instead relying on the 15 or so types of vegetables she has stored, dried, fermented or placed in a root cellar from the previous summer.

In the winter, she focuses on growing sprouts, which she says can grow in three to five days in a jar or seven to 10 days in soil.

"It's better to eat your salad in the summer and eat something that grows quicker, like a sprout in the winter or stored vegetables like potatoes, carrots and turnips," she said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting