To Market, To Market …

I usually plant more vegetables than I am going to personally use because I like to attend the farmers’ markets in Whitehorse.

It started out that I was just bringing the surplus of the garden, but soon it became a reason to plant more. When I started to attend the market, it was being held

at the Takhini Gas station. But shortly thereafter we moved to downtown Whitehorse.

Now, every Thursday afternoon you will see white tents at Shipyards Park. That’s where the Fireweed Community Market is held from 3 to 8 p.m.

Many of us have been with the market for the past five seasons and still enjoy it. There is a variety of fresh vegetables (often picked that same morning), eggs, baking, cheese, preserves, crafts, live music, food … I could go on and on.

It has become a community of its own. At the first market of the season, it often takes longer to set up because people are catching up on news. And the number of vendors is down to our diehard core.

But as the summer progresses, more are added to those attending – people with a garden plot that produces more than they can eat or preserve; others joining now that school is finished for another year; or, someone who has some time before the festivals across the territory get started. Each person adds their own flavour to the market.

In years past, it used to rain only on market days, or it seemed to. In fact, I have had customers tell me that the only reason they remembered the market was because it was raining. But this year, we have had only one rainy market all season. We’ll see if this trend continues.

I remember the first time we set up in our present location. It was windy and we were all new to the anchoring of our tents. One even toppled over as a result. We have since become better at making sure no one ends up flying away.

But the one thing that stays in my memory is the demand for fresh food.

As Yukoners, we have had to become accustomed to cardboard tomatoes and tasteless lettuce. But at the market there is taste in the lettuce, and the tomatoes (when you can find them) are juicy and full of flavour.

A few varieties of the lettuce I grow are tender – so tender they would never make it onto a supermarket shelf; they wouldn’t make the trip. But tasty … and it is like that with just about everything sold at the market.

The baking is fresh and tempting; the fish is freshly caught; the eggs are only a few days old (instead of weeks); carrots are sweet and crunchy.

It’s the way food is supposed to taste.

This is one reason I started to farm in the Yukon. Just because we live so far away from civilization (read: “the rest of Canada”), it doesn’t mean our quality of food has to suffer.

By growing a garden or keeping some small livestock, you are not only eating better, but you are also becoming more self-sustaining.

Joan Norberg and her husband, Allan, run Grizzly Valley Farms on the Mayo Road. They have successfully endured the Yukon’s short seasons and less-than-ideal soil conditions. Send her your questions at [email protected]

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