After close to 40 years of supplying fresh local produce to Dawson City, Yukon, Grant Dowdell, a legend in local growing, is retiring.
As his retirement gift to the community, Grant is generously sharing some of his tremendous farming knowledge accumulated over 40 years of growing vegetables in the Klondike: Grant and Karen’s ‘tried and true’ seed varieties as well as their planting and harvesting schedule.
In 1974 Grant received an agriculture lease for an island in the Yukon River, 10 km upstream from Dawson–and started clearing the land, having decided to make his living growing vegetables for Dawson. At the time a Dawson old timer told him “You can’t do that. No one’s going to want to buy local stuff.”
Apparently the old timer wasn’t the only one who thought so. When he first started selling his produce to grocery stores back in the 70’s the stores didn’t advertise it as local as they were worried that no-one would buy it if they knew it was grown locally.
Fortunately sentiment has shifted over the years and now the value of fresh, locally grown produce is a hot commodity in Dawson.
At the height of production, Grant was producing ten tons of produce per summer, supplying vegetables to two grocery stores and six restaurants in Dawson. For many years, Grant would load up his boat and bring his vegetables to Dawson three times per week, hauling the equivalent of 2-3 truck loads per trip!
Grant and his partner, Karen Digby, will be missed at Dawson’s local Saturday Farmers’ Market. On behalf of the greater Dawson Community, thank you Grant and Karen for your years of service providing us with nutritious, fresh local produce. And a thank you from all northern gardeners and farmers for generously sharing your knowledge in this handout guide.