b"the storage. So, there's minimal handling,for a formal teaching program, so in 2014 he explains. Milne founded NFTI. The institute offers Another challenge the farm experiencedprograms to teach people to grow their own was finding a fertilizer system which fitgardens and raise some small livestock. The their operation as crop nutrition is criticalmajority of people attending classes are for the short growing season. ThroughIndigenous.trial and error, they discovered lessIts a grassroots designed educational nitrogen is better than more. Theyve alsoplatform that I based my own personal encountered some disease issues, withjourney on of learning. Like what I wanted cold soil diseases such as scabs and dry rotto know, what would it take for me to affecting their crops. contribute to feeding my family of five in this northern city? It just came from that, Extending the Growing SeasonMilne explains.through Research One of the foods Milne has focused on Researchers at AAFC are also lookinggrowing is potatoes. The health benefits into how to improve food production inof the tuber make it a good fit for the northern Canada. The four-year projectNorth. Through garden beds with soil has vegetable researchers testing seasonincluding layers of reindeer moss and extension technologies in the cold,cattails, amongst other things, Milne northern climates.grows red and yellow skin varieties.Season length is a really large challengeIn 2020, as the pandemic hit and in most other places, because the seasonprocessing contract volumes were cut in starts a bit later and ends earlier whensouthern Canada, a farmer from Lacombe, frost starts to come, Rick Peters, anAlta. donated 25 tons of seed potatoes to AAFC research scientist says. Theresthe Northwest Territories through NFTI. opportunities too because some of theThe news made headlines, with AAFC pests and diseases that we deal withresearcher Helen Tai seeing the story.regularly down south may or may not be inIt just impressed me about how much some of these other locations. Potatoes growing in a research plot at Happyis being sent over and the difficulties that The project has AAFC scientistsValley-Goose Bay, N.L. A data logger under ayou have, when you're shipping seed radiation shield is collecting air temperature collaborating with local researchers andand relative humidity data on the crop.tubers. And that reminded me a lot of the farmers in northern communities to testPHOTO: AAFC work that we have been doing on true season extension technologies such aspotato seed, Tai explains. It's a very low tunnels and bio plastic mulches tofor baseline comparisons to the northernsmall quantity of seed thats required. So, grow potatoes, green beans, carrots andtest plots.that's why I thought maybe for northern rutabagas. Bruising and storing of potatoes,This represents a collaborationproduction, using true potato seed might along with what pests and diseasesbetween multiple different groups. Andbe an option.affect potatoes are also being tested. Thejust really offers a good opportunityTai reached out to Milne about true project was originally meant to take placeto work together in some of thesepotato seeds. As Milne learned more over three years starting in 2019 but wascommunities, where theres a lot lessabout the seeds, she quickly agreed they extended a year after the pandemic haltedresearch focused on how to developcould be a perfect fit. Shipping potato planting test plots in 2020.the sustainable food systems it needs,seed tubers to the Northwest Territories The season extension technologies areWheeler explains. is expensive and theres concern the meant to warm the space around the seedsseed could spoil before its able to be or plants to help them germinate faster andTrue Potato Seeds a Northern Match planted. Another concern with shipment mature before the end of the short growingSeason extension technologies isnt theis diseases could be brought into the area. season, Wheeler explains. They are alsoonly AAFC project happening in the North.True potato seeds on the other hand, can evaluating the impact of bioplastics andIn the Northwest Territories, true potatobe shipped through the mail, stored for mulches on soils, which are meant to breakseeds are also being tested by AAFCyears and carry few diseases.down into the soil, but have not been testedscientists in collaboration with NFTI. For the past year, Tai and Milne have before in northern climates.NFTI was found in 2014 by Milne. Anworked together to test growing and Potatoes are being planted at sites inavid gardener, NFTIs Milne would findestablishing true potato seeds in Hay the Yukon, Happy Valley-Goose Bay,herself fielding questions about growingRiver. David de Koeyer, head of AAFCs N.L. and St. Johns, N.L. Duplicate trialsgardens from neighbours. As more peoplepotato breeding program, picked true in Harrington, P.E.I. are being plantedinquired, she realized there was a needpotato seed families with early maturity SPUDSMART.COM Summer 20219"