Growing projects putting down roots around elevators

There were more than three dozen growing projects and fundraisers in Alberta last year, including the Brownfield and District Growing Project, which made a YouTube video of its 2017 harvest.
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Volunteers at a trio of Canadian Foodgrains Bank growing projects in Alberta won’t have to go far to deliver their harvests this fall.

Viterra is providing 400 acres around three of its Alberta grain terminals (and another three in Saskatchewan) for growing pro­jects this year.

“We’ve had a long-standing partnership with Viterra,” said John Longhurst, the Foodgrains Bank’s director of resources and public engagement.

Last year, the company donated the use of 42 acres around its grain elevators in Stettler and Balgonie, Sask.

This year, it has again donated land around those two elevators as well as ones at Lethbridge and Trochu (along with Raymore and Grenfell in Saskatchewan). Volunteers donate their time and equipment to seed and harvest the crop, usually with donated inputs.

“It works out well for us because the No. 1 thing that growing projects need if they’re going to be successful is land,” said Longhurst. “Depending on where people live, land can be very difficult to get or it can be very expensive if it needs to be rented. So having access to land is one of the most beneficial things a company like Viterra can provide for us.

“We often have no difficulty finding volunteers who will help us farm the land. It’s just getting the land itself.”

Viterra — jointly owned by Glencore Agriculture and two Canadian pension funds — also donates $5 for every tonne of grain delivered from a growing project to one of its western Canadian elevators. It is, so far, the only grain company donating land.

The Foodgrains Bank has hundreds of growing projects and other community fundraising initiatives across the country, including more than three dozen in Alberta. Farmers in the province have been supporting the organization for more than 40 years.

But it never hurts to have a bit more publicity, said Longhurst.

“Everyone who drives up to the terminal location where these growing projects are located will see a sign that indicates the land is being farmed jointly between Viterra and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank,” he said. “It lets people know about the work the Foodgrains Bank does, so that’s very special for us.”

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is hoping other grain companies will join Viterra in providing land for growing projects, and that signs like these will encourage more groups to participate in its fundraising efforts. photo: Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Viterra has land at other locations that it is looking at offering for other growing projects.

“We’re hoping that this will continue to grow and that other companies decide they want to do it as well,” said Longhurst.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger. It is active in more than 40 countries, providing food assistance projects in crisis situations and increasing food production by helping communities increase yields through sustainable agriculture practices. It also has nutrition programs that focus on education; provision of clean water; and assisting pregnant and nursing mothers and children under the age of five.

About the author


Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."



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