Long-running growing project finds land at last moment

It was a close call, but one of the country’s longest-running Canadian Foodgrains Bank growing projects has successfully seeded its 24th crop.

“We did not secure this 70 acres until May 6, which is very late,” Doug Maas, a member of the Central Alberta Growing Project committee, said in an email.

“Our committee was looking at the possibility of no project this year.”

Hundreds of growing projects across the country (including about 30 in Alberta) support the work of the Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger. In a growing project, farmers provide the equipment and labour to seed, grow, and harvest crops on rented or donated land (with companies typically donating the seed and most of the inputs or supporting the project in other ways, such as paying premium prices for the crop).

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Funds raised are matched on a 4:1 basis by the federal government. Since 2000, the Central Alberta Growing Project has raised $1,172,000 from crop proceeds and cash donations.

The group behind the project has been looking forward to its 25th anniversary in 2020, but those plans were nearly derailed by the challenge of finding land this year. But the prospect of having to take a sabbatical was averted when a Lacombe County farmer said they could use a recently purchased parcel near Bentley.

“We are so grateful that the landowner made this 70 acres available to us,” said Maas, adding the producer “also seeded it for us.”

Finding land for a growing pro­ject is often the biggest challenge for local organizers, but three Alberta projects didn’t have to deal with that issue this year. For the third successive year, Viterra is providing land at three of its Alberta terminals — in Lethbridge, Trochu, and Stettler — as well as at two Saskatchewan terminals.

For the first time in the three-year partnership, a Hutterite colony has taken up Viterra’s offer of land. The Raymore Hutterite Colony was to seed 60 acres of peas. The other locations are being farmed by a combination of growing projects and individuals.

The Central Alberta Growing Project is still looking for donations to cover input costs for this year’s 70 acres of CPS wheat. To make a contribution, call Maas at 403-782-1860.

About the author

Editor

Glenn Cheater is a veteran journalist who has covered agriculture for more than two decades. His mission is to showcase the ideas, passions, and stories of Alberta farmers and ranchers.

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