Following multi-year ideation by Mr. Duteau, the YukonGrow model started to take shape as part of Northlight Innovation Bootcamp’s first cohort in fall 2019, where a market validation exercise was initiated for Yukon-made biochar and other soil amendments. An unprecedented demand from hobby gardeners arising out of stay-at-home measures and (re)discovery of the entertainment, therapeutic and food sovereignty benefits of gardening resulting from the COVID-19 situation spurred the launch of our e-commerce website with afferent FB page in Summer 2020. This allowed for brand awareness and early-stage market positioning as subject matter expert (audience of >450 followers as of February 2021) and fostered the development of a budding clientele (sales of approx. $2,500 in 2020)
Building on the experience and momentum of 2020, YukonGrow is now working on scaling up with the development of sustainable high yielding living soil blends made here in the Yukon, by Yukoners, and adapted to our unique conditions up here. These will be uniquely based on inoculated biochar and will make use of local ingredients wherever we can. In particular, we are looking to upcycle products generated by the local agri-food industry that currently are considered as ‘waste’. For instance, we want to make best usage of local compost, manure, offal (e.g. blood meal, bone meal, feather meal, fish emulsion/sileage), spent grain (malt waste, spent mushroom grow media), and slash. Pre-orders are now open until April 30th on our upcoming gardening blends (garden mix, raised bed mix, basket & container gardening mix), with distribution starting May 13, 2021 (see Soil Blends for details). The series will later be completed with specialized blends such as a seed starting (seedling) mix, a potting mix, a tree & shrub mix, a flower/cannabis mix, a lawn mix, and potentially others on demand.
In January 2021, YukonGrow was selected as one of the three first high-potential companies to embark IncubateNorth, a business development program powered by TD at YukonU’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship. This new collaboration is meant to help us shape the future and shall bring us closer to producing our own biochar and to replicating the process model beyond Yukon, for instance Alberta and BC.