Locally produced milk now on the shelves of certain Whitehorse-area stores

·3 min read
Jason, left, and Krista Roske, right, pose with their daughter Kate in the processing room of their dairy farm, Sunnyside Farm Yukon, just outside Whitehorse. (Submitted by Krista Roske - image credit)
Jason, left, and Krista Roske, right, pose with their daughter Kate in the processing room of their dairy farm, Sunnyside Farm Yukon, just outside Whitehorse. (Submitted by Krista Roske - image credit)

Five years ago Krista Roske and her husband Jason talked about expanding their farm to include a year-round source of revenue.

"We were looking for something to turn our hobby farm into a commercial operation," said Krista.

Now, Sunnyside Farm Yukon located in the Ibex Valley just outside Whitehorse, is among the only dairy farms in the territory that produces and sells cow's milk within the Yukon.

"We love cows and they all have their own names and their own personalities," said Krista.

While Krista works full-time outside of the farm, Jason takes care of milking and feeding the cows twice a day, and processes the milk every two and a half days, depending on the volume.

Submitted by Krista Roske
Submitted by Krista Roske

Right now, they are milking four Jersey cows at the farm — the second largest breed of dairy cattle in the world — with another six to arrive before October.

One of the cows calved the fifth member on Saturday, the family decided to name the baby Amethyst.

The pasteurized whole milk can be found at two Whitehorse-area stores — Tum Tum's Black Gilt Meats and the Super A in Porter Creek. However, that list is expected to grow.

"We'll be adding stores slowly and we'll post that on Facebook as we go," said Krista.

'We hit a lot of hurdles'

On April 8, the couple announced in a Facebook post the farm was officially licensed to sell commercially.

"It was such an achievement, but we're exhausted," Krista said.

Although the couple is excited to hit the market, the journey to become an official dairy farm came with "a lot of hurdles," from getting certified to buying equipment to adhering to the proper amount of vitamin D per batch, Krista said.

Krista and Jason spent three years creating a business plan, from finances to certifications.

"The milk regulations are very old here. They're from 1962," said Krista, who took two semesters of milk processor training courses through the B.C. government.

Another hurdle was acquiring Jersey cows.

Krista said larger dairy farms are focusing on the quantity of milk, and to increase the body fat in the product, Jersey cows are being added to the herds.

"So we actually had a lot more trouble than we thought we would sourcing Jersey cows," said Krista.

Thankfully for the Yukon farm, there were three groups willing to sell, one from Manitoba, Alberta and B.C.

Submitted by Krista Roske
Submitted by Krista Roske

She added, having a small-scale farm in the milk industry is very expensive.

"Any of the equipment that we need is very hard to buy small," said Krista. "Most farmers [in Canada] just sell their milk to the milk truck and then it gets processed somewhere else in huge quantities."

That's why most of the farm's equipment comes from Romania and Ukraine, two places where there's smaller farming instruments.

"Being so far from everyone that does dairy up here, I find it very tricky as well," she added.

Klondike Valley Creamery in Dawson City is the other dairy farm in the Yukon, however, its products include cheese and yogurt

Vitamin D

The most recent hurdle appeared a few days before hitting the market — vitamin D.

It is a legal requirement under Health Canada's Food and Drug Act to add vitamin D to all forms of milk.

"I've only found one place in Canada where you can buy vitamin D. And it's very expensive because it's all geared towards that larger milk industry. So that limits us," Krista said.

Vitamin A must be added to skim and partially skimmed milk in order to replenish what was lost in the cream during the skimming process.

"We won't be able to ever do the two per cent milk because we'd have to add vitamin A and we can't get that in the quantity that we can afford. So that was an eye opener."

Despite the hurdles Krista said her and Jason are happy to have overcome them to hit this new milestone.

"We are really proud of ourselves but it's the start of the work," said Krista.

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