Sweet potatoes in Manitoba? Why not, says urban farmer


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/03/2015 (2998 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Things are looking pretty sweet for Tiffany Grenkow.

The 40-year-old St. Vital resident is a small-scale urban farmer currently immersed in the hobby of growing and selling sweet potato slips — among other things.

Grenkow, who has been growing the slips at home for the last three years, said she has defied skeptics with her enterprise and is willing to share her knowledge, if not her secrets, with the community.

Simon Fuller St. Vital-based small-scale urban farmer Tiffany Grenkow pictured near the Seine River, where she has foraged for various natural food ingredients.

“This is sort of uncharted territory for most Canadians, let alone Winnipeggers,” Grenkow said.

“Until now, the slips have not been made available to Manitoba gardeners except through mail order. Sweet potatoes are considered to be a hot-climate vegetable requiring a long growing season. However, there are new varieties available with shorter maturation dates and also new technologies to extend the growing season,” she said.

“People have told me you can’t grow them here, as they’re grouped with other tropical foods, like pineapples and papayas, that we don’t think of growing here.”

Grenkow said part of the appeal of her hobby is that she can nurture sweet potato slips on her own doorstep.

“It’s a better use of land and space and it reduces travel costs. It doesn’t get more local than being grown in your own city,” Grenkow said, noting “the locally grown ones are more of a petite size compared to the larger ones in the stores.”

It’s not like Grenkow is a one-trick pony.

“I also grow specialty gourmet vegetables such as beans, peas in different colours, varieties of squash and tomatoes,” Grenkow said.

She also forages for nature’s fruit in various locations, including provincial forests and local areas, and provides high-end Winnipeg restaurants with produce.

“Last December, for example, I harvested highbush cranberries. They stay frozen in the woods all winter. This helped put me on the map,” Grenkow said.  

In terms of sweet potatoes, the future knows no bounds for Grenkow.

“I’m so enthusiastic. I love it so much and I love to share. It puts such a smile on my face to be able to do this and share and excite people,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Grenkow Grenkow's daughter, three-year-old Eva, pictured at home with sweet potato slips growing next to her.

Grenkow also loves involving her husband, Gary, and children, Sheldon, 8, and Eva ,3, in the process.

“The most amazing thing for me is that my kids can understand the effort that goes into our food and know what comes from our earth. Then, it all goes into the compost and the cycle begins again,” Grenkow said.

According to a recent Facebook post by Grenkow, sweet potatoes improve digestion, increase energy, sharpen vision, enhance the immune system and heighten endurance.

Grenkow will be appearing at the Gardening Saturday event at the Victoria Inn (1808 Wellington Ave.) on Sat., March 28.

For more information, including tips, tricks and stories, visit Facebook and search for Tiffany Grenkow.
Twitter: @lanceWPG

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7111.

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