About Yukon Agriculture
Farming – North of 60
Despite living in a region north of 60 degrees latitude, Yukoners have raised crops and livestock in the territory from the late 1800s to the present. Over the years, agricultural activities in the Yukon have developed in response to a variety of factors. The influx of prospectors during the Gold Rush resulted in several farms being developed around the Dawson City region. Following the Gold Rush years, small farms continued to operate to meet the on-going need for fresh, Yukon-grown vegetables.
During the 40s, 50s and 60s, the building of the Alaska highway made the demand for local food less urgent as southern goods could now be obtained with relative ease. By the 1970s, however, a resurgence of interest in farming had taken place, bringing with it the formation of the Yukon Agriculture and Livestock Association (now YAA). As of 2016 there were over 140 farms in operation in the Yukon, along with several agriculture-related organizations, a dedicated Agriculture Branch at the Government of Yukon, a research farm located just outside of Whitehorse, farmers markets, a teaching farm in Dawson City, and much more.
Diversity of Yukon Agriculture
Yukon agriculture encompasses a wide range of activities. Hay continues to be the leading crop in production in terms of acreage and capital; livestock is raised for meat, milking, or for fibre; the haskap berry industry is rapidly developing; a large federally-inspected egg-producing farm is now in operation, increased cold storage allows for more produce to be available through the winter, a dairy farm is now operating in the Dawson region, and farmers grow a wide variety of vegetables to meet demand for locally produced food. The ever-expanding variety of farm products available in Yukon prompted the YAA to update the online version of the Yukon Farm Products and Services Guide in 2016.
Organic farming continues to establish itself in the Yukon, with both certified and non-certified organic farms in operation, and an active organic growers group (Growers of Organic Food Yukon). Other agricultural activities in Yukon include the production/provision of: farrier services, equine therapy services, fish farming, forest seedlings, game farming, grass sod, forage, bee-keeping and honey, and increased planning for the development of aquaponic and hydroponic facilities. In addition, First Nation governments are investigating agricultural initiatives on territorial land.
Yukon Agriculture Statistics – 2016 Census
The Canadian census of 2016 reported 142 farms operating in the Yukon encompassing a total farm area of 10,330 hectares, with 6,801 ha under production (crops and pasture). The number of farms operating in the Yukon has fluctuated since the 2001 census, from a high of 170 (2001) to a low of 130 (2011), though the total area in production has not changed as notably. Fruit and vegetable production has increased steadily since 2001, which is not surprising as the demand for locally produced food and awareness of food security has also increased in recent years, demonstrated in part by the 2016 the publication of the Local Food Strategy for Yukon: Increasing Production and Consumption of Yukon-Grown Food, 2016-2021.
News Articles about Yukon Agriculture
With funding support from Growing Forward 2, YAA commissioned Yukon chef and food journalist Miche Genest to write a series of articles about Yukon agriculture referencing both historical and current content. The articles were published by Yukon News in the autumn of 2016 and spring of 2017.
Online guide makes it easy to find Yukon farmers
These Yukon farmers go to market
How hay for horses led to hay for livestock
Robert Campbell and early cattle drives
Turn of the century food security
The lean years of Yukon farming
Mixed farming at Pelly River Ranch
Urban agriculture and city gardens
Community gardens and fresh local produce