Winter; a season many people dread. The extra work of shovelling snow, the layers of clothing, the cold temperatures, and even the shorter daylight hours are something to be endured.
But I like winter, and always have. To me, it’s a time of working together — even if it is just to get a vehicle out of a snow bank. The cozy time spent around a woodstove, warming up after being outside, the gathering of friends and family as we celebrate different holidays, and now that I live in the North, the only time I see the stars with any clarity, are all reason to enjoy the season.
Of course being prepared helps.
In the fall, as we cleared off the garden, we put root crops into storage. The turkeys, chickens, and pigs were butchered and put into the freezer. Pickles and jams were made — comfort food from my childhood. This is a form of food security, one that used to be a very common practice. Storing food for the winter months used to be expected of everyone who lived here.
There are some folks who would like to see us return to those days of self-sufficiency; and it isn’t a bad idea either. To feed ourselves instead of being dependent on the south would insulate us from disasters that could otherwise cause panic and mayhem.
It wasn’t that long ago the Alaska Highway washed out, preventing anything from coming North. And while it was temporarily solved by a Hercules aircraft landing in Whitehorse, this isn’t a sustainable solution for the long term.
Hunting and gathering of wild foods is still quite common here, but if we were all to start doing this we would probably send the wild populations into a tailspin. This is where farming and gardening can help.
Knowing where your food comes from, and knowing your farmer is becoming as important as knowing who your doctor is, your child’s teacher, or your mechanic. By supporting local farmers people support their own communities and make them more sustainable — a win-win situation.
Over the past few years, as the Fireweed Community Market has grown, so has the size of our market garden. This past year we started to partner with the Potluck Food Coop, although only in root crops for now. But the demand exceeded expectations. I think we need to break new ground for more garden space.
It takes time to develop a garden so the sooner it’s started, the better. It also means we will need more seeds to plant. And more planting means more work. But right now no ground can be broken and nothing can be planted. Now is the time to plan. So as I sit by the fire looking through seed catalogues, I will dream of spring — and a food-secure Yukon.