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Digging into spring

Angele Cano
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The new Northern Farm Training Institute held its inaugural workshop April 26-28 in Hay River.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sharon Pekok, left, examines the soil, while Melinda Laboucan of Fort Good Hope rakes hay. - Angele Cano/NNSL photo

Sixteen participants gathered at the Anchorage Bed 'n' Breakfast in Old Town and Jackie Milne's farm over the three days to learn how to plant and prepare soil with compost.

The workshop is part of a series of seven to be held throughout the growing season to focus on marketing, garden maintenance, food preservation, growing techniques, fertilization, animal husbandry and much more.

Participants travelled from as far away as Fort Good Hope to take the weekend workshop.

All seven of this year's workshops will be based on practices adapted to northern gardening and farming. The idea is to have the participants from various communities take what they learn back to their homes and share it with others.

The class went over the basics of building soil, seed handling, transplanting and how to utilize resources already in their home communities. Many had plans of returning to start their own community greenhouses and to share the fruits of their labours with residents. They'll be returning home with graduation kits including tools for the garden and also mental tools that will help them spread local food throughout, said workshop instructor Jackie Milne.

"I can just tell it's going to be a dynamic changing tool," she said. "They were all so attentive. "They even got to taste what they were going to grow. It was all connected."

There is a core group who has signed up for all the workshops, and a waiting list for each that sits at above 40.

The class has even coined a new mantra.

"Fly people, not food," said Milne. "If we invest all those travel dollars into people we won't have to invest so much in transporting food."

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