Farm training set for growth

Fred Punch from Trout Lake, Sharon Pekok and Jackie Milne of Hay River, and Yellowknife resident Whitney Jason prepare to work on Milne's garden at her home. Milne has been cultivating land in the industrial area for five years. Photo by Sarah Ladik NNSL

Fred Punch from Trout Lake, Sharon Pekok and Jackie Milne of Hay River, and Yellowknife resident Whitney Jason prepare to work on Milne’s garden at her home. Milne has been cultivating land in the industrial area for five years.
Photo by Sarah Ladik
NNSL

Proponents for the Northern Farm Training Institute now have the land, the money and the buildings under construction to start their first season with a proper campus, and now they have turned to the community in search of greater participation.

“We have ideas, of course, but we thought it would be fun to ask you guys what you would do if you were to put a farm here on this site,” said Jackie Milne at last week’s public meeting.

Attendees were asked to help plan out the layout of the farm and suggest ideas for classes they might like to take. Milne said that community participation will be key, as the campus will be a busy place with students coming in from all over the territory; Hay Riverites are invited to become ambassadors for the institute, able to give tours to people coming through town and other visitors.

“It was great to see a lot of new faces,” Milne said after the initial presentation about the history and goals for the project. About 25 people turned out for the evening hosted at Aurora College. “People were really interested, and not the same ones who have supported us from the beginning, there were new faces asking questions and sharing their ideas.”

For fellow-farm training institute proponent Kim Rapati, part of the strength of the project is the plan to make the campus a pleasant place to be. She explained how there would be yurts, which are eight sided tent like structures, where students from across the NWT could stay and how they would be tucked away in a forested area of the site.

“We want to make the site a really beautiful place to be,” she said, adding that the principles they want to follow allow for a balance between good jobs for people, a strong economic foundation and a sustainable, environmentally friendly operation. “We’re definitely starting in small and then planning to expand as our capacity grows.”

–Sarah Ladik