300 lbs of kohlrabi land in Yellowknife, boost food security

300 lbs of kohlrabi land in Yellowknife, boost food security
Three hundred pounds of kohlrabi, an odd-looking cousin of broccoli, have infiltrated Yellowknife from Hay River to provide residents in the capital with more local food.Photo courtesy of Amy Lam/Yellowknife Farmers Market.

Kohlrabi. Some Yellowknife residents might not know how to pronounce it let alone cook it, but the Yellowknife Farmers Market (YKFM) is hoping to change all that with its Kohlrabi Kraze event this week.

The city’s foremost agricultural initiative received an influx of the strange-looking green vegetable last week from Hay River’s Indian Summers Market Gardens, who were looking to unload the bounty of their abundant bumper crop.

With over 300 lbs of extra kohlrabi unable to sell in Hay River, YKFM president France Benoit decided to take the veggies off Indian Summers’ plate and sell them to the people of Yellowknife, where local food is less abundant but greatly desired.

“They’ve got the volume and we’ve got the population,” Benoit said, “so it’s a good fit.”

This week’s market on Tuesday evening will feature approximately 500 kohlrabi as the main stars of the show, with individuals for sale for $1-$3, bunches for sale at $4/kg, cooked kohlrabi served by vendors, and samples, recipes and growing information for those unfamiliar with the vegetable. It will also be shared with local restaurants that will work it into their menus.

Part of the brassica family, kohlrabi is a relative of broccoli and cabbage. When peeled, it is similar to a large, green radish and can be just as zesty. While many eat the vegetable raw, either sliced with salt or grated in salad, it can be cooked like broccoli or turnip, roasted or prepared in soups.

Though primarily dedicated to providing a space for the buying and selling of local produce, the YKFM subscribes to a much larger agenda of promoting food security and has even drafted its own Yellowknife Food Charter, outlining the current situation and vision for a sustainable food system in the NWT capital.

Benoit said Kohlrabi Kraze is an important first step in “inter-settlement collaboration” among NWT communities – one she hopes will continue as the growing season moves into full-on harvest.

“We’re seeing it as part of our food security initiative. But it’s also more than that; not a lot of people know about kohlrabi, what vegetable it is and what nutritional value it has, how to prepare it, so we’re also using this as an educational opportunity,” she said. “We can help Yellowknifers discover new things, and especially new things that grow well here, so that’s another thing we’re looking forward to showcasing.”

The YKFM runs every Tuesday until Sept. 15 from 5:15-7:30 p.m. at the Somba K’e Civic Plaza. It also runs the Landshare Program providing local market gardeners access to land.

Indian Summer Market Garden is a small-scale organic farm in Hay River that runs a Community Supported Agriculture program and sells produce at local markets.

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