When guests started cancelling in February, Yukon resort owners Heather and Andrew Finton knew 2020 was going to be a challenge. When the borders to the States and around the world closed they knew their tourism business needed a brave new start.
“We looked around at what’s here on site, and how to share it,” Andrew said. “We’ve got these beautiful cabins for Yukoners to enjoy. And we’ve got acres of fertile soil.”
The new idea: Invite Yukoners to buy a getaway at Sundog Retreat and use those dollars to grow more local food for people in need.
“We know people are going a little stir-crazy at home, and we’ve got a safe place here for local escapes while contributing to our community at the same time,” Heather stated.
By March they were into action. The couple has created a crowdsourcing campaign to build support for their new farming activities. They applied for and are receiving government grants for Sundog Retreat to employ a great team of young workers who are out in the fields working now.
The Fintons credit their neighbours with getting things started, sharing northern farming knowledge, resources such as dump truck loads of composted manure, spreading the word and giving them encouragement. They are so appreciative to the territorial and federal governments for emergency funding programs, and to the PIVOT program via Yukon College, which provides a team of planning and marketing experts to help them with the transition.
“We could not be doing this alone. For example, Sarah Ouellette from Sarah’s Harvest has been terrifically helpful with market garden advice,” Andrew said. “Our campaign updates thank so many neighbours and suppliers who have been stepping up with great advice.”
The campaign video and updates on Indiegogo, which run until June 14th, clearly reflect the community’s quick and positive response. “We had to move fast, because the growing season is short,” Andrew said. “This is our start-up year and we jumped in with both feet.”
Most of the food Sundog will grow this year will go to the Whitehorse Food Bank, so Yukon residents looking for a holiday and who can afford some self-care by purchasing a Sundog staycation will also be caring for others. “At first people were confused about how we were mixing these services,” Heather admitted. “We weren’t clear that they can buy a gift certificate for a stay at Sundog Retreat anytime in the future or now, they can give it as a gift to others if they want to. And by making a financial contribution of any size, they can help us to grow vegetables for local families.”
The 160 acre resort provides private cabins with full kitchens and bathrooms, spaced with lots of room to wander in the forest and farm.
For more information and to make a contribution go to www.igg.me/at/sundog-cares