Saskatchewan First Nation planting the seed for the future - APTN NewsAPTN News

Saskatchewan First Nation planting the seed for the future

Larissa Burnouf
APTN National News
A Saskatchewan First Nation is reaping the rewards of their organic garden operation and is now selling its product to grocery stores across the prairies.

The Flying Dust First Nation started the Riverside Market Garden in 2009 with less than a hectare of land. That has now grown to 23 hectares.

The demand for their organic potatoes has increased which allowed the garden to expand operations.

“I didn’t think we’d have a building like this,” said manager Len Sawatsky. “This year we are expanding our potato storage area to four times the size of what’s in there because Thomas Fresh wants us to expand, they want more potatoes from us, and so we’re happy to comply.”

Thomas Fresh is a national distributor that has partnered with the Market Garden and its product is now being sold on store shelves in Sobeys, Safeway, and other smaller retailers.

“I’d say the sky’s the limit,” said Thomas Fresh Branch Manager Robb McGill. “It will depend on how fast they can grow and how much they can produce and how much they can store.”

Flying Dust first started the garden as a way to curb diseases like diabetes and diet-related cancers and as a way to provide healthier alternatives to its members.

“It was geared towards getting a lot of our people off social assistance, bringing them into employment and job readiness as well as with the focus of healthy living,” said Flying Dust First Nation Chief Jeremy Norman.

Lillian Chatelaine has worked in the garden since it began and said elders from neighbouring communities have begun inquiring about starting gardens of their own.

“They were asking me how we started this Market Garden here and they wanted to know how to go about it from Loon Lake and Waterhen because they really want to grow their own gardens too,” said Chatelaine.

The garden is more than just a way to help feed band members, said Sawatsky. It’s also a way for them to learn about historical and traditional ways of life.

“We treat the land in a good way that we have a relationship with the earth. This is really important that we revive some of the Aboriginal traditions that have become lost because really Indigenous people are the original environmentalists and the original people in terms of organic,” he said.

Indigenous people are the original environmentalists and the original people in terms of organic,” he said.

The community plans to purchase additional modern and efficient equipment to keep up with the demand.

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8 Responses to “Saskatchewan First Nation planting the seed for the future”

    Brenda Dick February 5, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

    This is such good news for aboriginal people and Canadian consumers. I always look for “produced in Canada” on my veggies. The more we produce, the less we depend on foreign products. Win win for us and the environment.

    June February 5, 2017 at 4:46 am #

    What a great idea in so many ways. Mother earth, back to nature. Working together and putting food on your members tables. And in the end making some money.

    Dan February 5, 2017 at 3:12 am #

    Great story , good for you guys to get this going , keep it up !

    JD February 5, 2017 at 12:26 am #


    Richard Karl Dehlinger February 4, 2017 at 7:52 pm #

    Most interesting…. Would respectfully request further information as to possible supply . My company, Trademark Inc. is now involved in shipping Organic potatoes into the USA market from Saskatchewan currently–in truck load, bulk, washed and graded , condition. and, may have interest in helping market your Organic product if the various varietals fit our program. Please contact via information supplied or–call 541-771-7072 if you have interest in expansion and competitive pricing…

    Dehlinger, Richard K

    Clayton February 4, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    Must feel good to take a stand and to get their 1st Nations people off of government assistance. I wish more reserves would take notice and go about finding a way to help themselves

    Kate February 4, 2017 at 5:28 am #

    This is an awesome ORGANIC story.

    Janie Ann Brydges February 4, 2017 at 12:37 am #

    Awesome ☺