A very Sasky Christmas: Ask an Agro’s holiday favourites

By in Opinions

When I first moved to Saskatchewan, I thought only wheat and canola were produced locally, but was I wrong! For years, I’ve been wowing folks back in British Columbia with the variety of Saskatchewan-made gifts that I bring home for the holidays.

Whether you’re spending the holidays out of province or in the next county over, Ask an Agro has compiled a list of locally sourced gift ideas perfect for those on a student budget.

Booze: Is it a cliché to mention alcohol first? Who cares. The amount of microbreweries and distilleries in Saskatchewan has grown exponentially in the last 20 years, and the changes made to the liquor laws in 2016 have made it even easier to find these local libations at a store near you.

Last Mountain Distillery, Lucky Bastard Distillers and Black Fox Farm & Distillery produce a wide variety of locally made spirits that are available at both private and provincial liquor board stores. You can also buy straight from the distillery, which even lets you sample the goods.

Our favourite is Black Fox. This company grows 90 per cent of the ingredients that go into its gins, vodkas and liqueurs.

Paddock Wood Brewing Co., Saskatchewan’s first microbrewery, even allows customers to  create their own six pack, so they can take home whatever combination of beers wets their whistle!

If you can’t manage a trip to the brewery itself, you can find most craft beers at liquor board stores for a much smaller markup than what’s placed on spirits. Black Bridge Brewery’s IPA, Rebellion Brewing Co.’s Lentil Cream Ale and High Key Brewing Co.’s Jolly Roger Ale are our top three picks.

Even if someone on your Christmas list has a gluten allergy, they can still enjoy locally made products from Crossmount Cider Company. Their cider is gluten free, available at any local liquor store and made using 100 per cent Canadian apples.

Honey: Crops need pollination, and as one of the country’s main producers of cereal crops, Saskatchewan also has a blooming honey industry. Though it may harden over time, honey never goes bad, making it an excellent gift.

Also, honey produced in different places will have a distinct flavour unique to that locality, known as its terroir. This means you can truly take the taste of Saskatchewan home with you for the holidays. Local honey and beeswax candles can be purchased at SaskMade Marketplace, Black Fox and The Better Good.

The Better Good on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon on Dec. 4, 2018.

Hemp: Commercial hemp production was legalized in Canada in 1998, and Saskatchewan currently holds the country’s highest number of Industrial Hemp Licenses and Registrations. Hemp is the non-THC version of marijuana — it contains only 0.03 per cent THC compared to an average of 8.5 per cent in marijuana — and it can be used to make cooking oil, protein supplements and

Hemp fibre has quite the history. In the past, it was even used to make American military uniforms during WWII, when traditional fibre sources weren’t available. Today, the locally owned Tentree Clothing Co. makes some of its items with hemp fibres.

Skincare: Who doesn’t like to be pampered? Soaps and lotions make a great gift for almost anyone, whether you know them well or not. The Whole Buffalo Soap Co. adds a refreshing prairie twist to the making of homemade soap by using bison tallow instead of the usual coconut oil, palm oil or beef tallow and colouring their soap with clay instead of artificial dyes.

Their products can currently be found online, but the owners say they hope to stock store shelves soon.

Homeware: If you know the person well, a locally made houseware item like a painting, photograph, cutting board or  a pair of slippers makes for a beautiful and thoughtful gift. The Better Good and the Wanuskewin Gift Shop, both located on Broadway Avenue, offer a beautiful selection of local and Indigenous-made pieces at a range of student-friendly prices.

Buying local reduces emissions, keeps tax dollars and profits within Saskatchewan, and provides you with unique and memorable gifts to take home. And it doesn’t have to break the bank if you know where to look. Happy hunting!

Ashly Dyck

Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor