Skip to content

Yk farmers open their doors to unveil growing operations


Yellowknifers got a a glimpse of the fruits – or, in this case, the vegetables – of local farming labour at Open Farm Day on Sunday.

Four farm sites in the region showcased their lush produce as harvest season approaches. Among them were EIEIO Farm, Le Refuge Farm, Madeline Lake Market Garden and Bush Order Provisions Ltd.

Using as much space as possible for food production is one of the key focuses of the Johnson family's EIEIO Farm on 51 Avenue. Their front yard is almost entirely dedicated to locally grown produce.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photos

Katie Johnson and her husband Trevor opened their EIEIO Farm on 51 Avenue . The Johnsons, who have two young children, have been among the advocates of food production on small lots. Their location in particular – a 5,000-square-foot property – has 1,300 square feet devoted to food production. They have a front yard taken up by various vegetables as well as two greenhouses and six raised beds. They also have a chicken coop in the back.

Katie Johnson, whose family runs EIEIO Farm on 51 Avenue, shows off the pride of her tomato plants in one of her greenhouses during Sunday's Open Farm Day.

"A lot of different agriculture associations in southern provinces hold open farm days and so this was similar," Katie explained. "Our goal here has been to make maximum use of our yard for local production but also to have it serve as a learning experience for our three year old and five year old."

Trevor added, "There is no better way to get your kids to eat vegetables than to have them pick their own out of their own gardens."

Their aim this year had been to produce 500 lbs of produce and because of the growing season's weather, the results have been "pretty ideal." The mixture of extremely hot days and extremely rainy days have helped vegetables thrive, most notably tomatoes, Johnson said.

"The tomatoes have been right out of control," Katie said, showing off a seven-foot-tall plant in one of her greenhouses.

Other vegetables that have done well, which the family has begun harvesting, include carrots, beets, potatoes and squash.

France Benoit, owner of La Refuge Farm, is encircled in the lush produce of kale and Swiss chard at her growing location on 49 Avenue.

Across town, France Benoit was exhibiting one of two of her properties of La Refuge Farm on 49 Avenue. Newly purchased last October, Benoit was similarly proving what can be done on a small plot of land.

She agreed that the extreme temperatures this year shaped the growing season and said that she has been quite impressed with her kale and Swiss chard – visibly lush and green in her front yard.

William Fenwick, left, and his sister Claire, right, show a toy tractor among the produce of EIEIO Farm during Sunday's Open Farm Day. Part of the efforts of the farm has been the encouragement of children to grow and enjoy their own vegetables.

"The season started late – probably by about two to three weeks – but I found we had heat at the right times and rain at the right time," Benoit said. "It made for a good combination."

She said starting late does impact the quality of what is produced at the end of the year, however she's looking forward to harvests that can run into October. For example, she planted carrots and beets only in July.

Franziska Ulbricht, owner of Madeline Lake Market Garden, enjoyed her first year of production since buying a former lot that Benoit owned.

Franziska Ulbricht, owner of Madeline Lake Market Garden, showed off her first year of vegetable production at her farm on the Ingraham Trail. Here a batch of carrots were among the successful root veggies due to a good growing season.
photo courtesy of Franziska Ulbricht

"I found it to be an amazing season with a lot of hot days and lots of rain as well," Ulbricht said.

She installed a new water irrigation system at the lot to water her produce and has organized the layout a bit differently, she said.

"Other than that, it was a turnkey operation when we bought it," she said.

Ulbricht said she has 17 customers every week for vegetable boxes that she prepares.

She gave a long list of vegetables that she's pleased with this season, including turnips, kale, kimchi cabbage, potatoes, peas, snap peas, beets and turnips.