8 Wednesday October 28 2015 By CRAIG GILBERT It took moving to the Land of the Midnight SunforTorontonativeAmyLamtolearnhow to garden and the irony is not lost on her. I laugh because it takes moving up to the North for me to start gardening which seems like the most counterintuitive place to learn how to grow she said. With such a wide variety of fresh produce available and so many places to buy it there is less incentive in the city to grow your own food an incentive that grows with the cost of food the farther north of 60 you travel. Itsaboutsurvivalshesaid.Theaccessto fresh food up here is abysmal and the cost of food is atrocious. So if we can bring that food security to communities its so important. The issue surfaced again last Thursday when the GNWT announced that while ag- riculture is celebrating a resurgence in the territory high food costs were a motivating factor in the creation of a new strategy doc- ument to advance and guide growth in the NWTs agriculture sector. While many of the 200 surveyed partic- ipants recognized that local food initiatives must strive to become self-sustaining they also expressed the need for improved access to soil power and heat infrastructure land andfinancialresourcesaGNWTreleasesaid. FoodcostsintheNWTareamajorcontrib- utor to the high cost of living in most commu- nities and the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy EOS included five recommended actions to increase economic opportunities for the agriculture sector in the NWT. Fore- mostamongthemwasthecreationofadefini- tive strategy and policy instruments to guide governmentinvestmentsupportbusinessop- portunitiesandanticipatedeconomicgrowth. With the installation of greenhouses in communities on the Beaufort Sea we now have a food production sector stretching the length and breadth of our territory Minister David Ramsay said. The fundamental ingre- dients in the development of an agricultural or food production industry are the desire willingness and capacity to grow food. This is clearly evident in the NWT. Lam moved to Yellowknife about three years ago where there appears to be plenty of willingness to create local nutritious food albeit on a smaller scale. She has been taking part in a microcosm of that GNWT vision for the entire territory as one of more than 200 communal and backyard land-share garden- ers. They are by no means impacting the ag- riculture industry but growers like Lam who took part in a series of experiential learning workshopsforaspiringandactivegardeners at the Northern Farm Training Institute in A very nifty gardener this Lam grows like a lion ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURE A Torontonian flourishing after transplanting herself to Yellowknife Amy Lam learned how to get the most out her garden during summer workshops at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River. PhotoscourtesyofAmyLam Hay River over the past three summers are creating food in enough quantities to affect their own food security. According to NFTI executive director Kim Rapati Lam earned her Northern Farmer certificate by completing all six of the schools introductory workshops Spring Into Plant- ing Your Seed Design and Plant Your Sus- tainable Garden Food Forests North of 60 GardenMaintenanceMarketingFoodHar- vest Preservation and Storage and Intro to Small and Large Animal Husbandry. Each workshop has 15 students a total of 50 students passed through NFTI in 2015 91 since its inception in 2013. Itsreallyniceupheretoknowthatwehave the ability to do that as well she said. Its a shortgrowingseasonbuttheamountofsunlight we get is fantastic so things grow a lot faster and youre not dealing with a lot of the pests we have down south. So you wouldnt believe itbutitsaquiteidealgrowingenvironment. After the first of the four workshops the students went back to their home communi- ties with hundreds of seedlings between them and the knowledge to get the most out of every single one. Lam said the mentorship shereceivedduringwhatwashersecondgrow- ing season was obvious in her harvest of root vegetables like carrots beets and potatoes kale and char tons of lettuce tomatoes cel- ery and even kohlrabi and the instructions start right in the soil. They gave us really practical knowledge about building the soil Lam said. Its im- portant because were on bedrock so those are very useful skills for up here. As the growing season progresses the workshops follow suit covering seed prep- aration in the spring then planting main- tenance and harvesting. It was really nice to have that mentorship throughout the growing season as I was start- ing to learn how to grow my own food. I have enoughtoprocessaswell.Ivebeendoingalot of canning freezing and dehydrating. Lam grew all of her produce in community and backyard landshare gardens in Yellow- knife. There are six individual sites managed by the Yellowknife Community Gardening Collective which rents plots between 20 and 22 square-metres in size for 25 for the year. There are about 200 members. In Yellowknife its fantastic to be able to grow but at the end of the day we do have ac- cess to stores and can get all of our supplies shesaid.Ithinkwhatssogreataboutthepro- gramisitdoeshitallthesmallcommunitiesthat arevulnerableforfoodsecurityandisableto provide them with the skills and tools as well. The program gives you everything you need. Yellowknifer Amy Lam grew beets kohlrabi cabbage and a horde of other nutritious vegetables this summer. She credits training she received at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River.