Thirty years ago Lucy and Jack Vogt left Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and came north looking for work. They found it in Dawson City.
Every year, during the short growing season, the Vogts make the Saturday drive into Dawson to sell their vegetables and bedding plants at the Dawson City Farmers Market.
It is hard to imagine that just beyond the barren tailings piles lining the Klondike Highway is the Vogts' fertile 10-acre plot at Henderson's Corner along the Klondike River. There the Vogts worked the land, started a business and raised their four children. They were named the Yukon Farmers of the Year in 2011.
Lucy is the conductor of the operation, attending to the gardens and three greenhouses, and Jack deals with the mechanics of the farm. They produce potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and bedding plants without the use of any herbicides or pesticides.
"We both grew up on farms. Growing things has always been part of our lives, so when we moved to Yukon, it was only natural that we would plant our own garden," says Lucy.
When the Vogts came to Dawson, Jack worked in construction while Lucy stayed home. One year she had more vegetables than she was going to make use of and decided to sell them. Realizing it could be an extra source of income, she planted more. The Dawson City Farmers Market provided a venue, and it developed from there.
"It was something I could do at home and that the kids could help me with," she says.
The Vogts adapted to growing food in a northern climate. Lucy explains it is the short growing season, long days and cool nights that give the vegetables the vibrancy and taste that is uniquely Yukon.
The Vogts have noticed many changes over their 25 years of selling vegetables, one being an increase in frost-free days in the summer. Another is local food consciousness. "The idea of buying local has grown phenomenally over the last few years. More and more people are learning it's important to know where their food comes from and they want to buy from their local farmer."
Attending to the land is a full-time commitment. To the Vogts, however, the benefit of growing your own food and making it available to others is invaluable.