Hospital fundraiser targets grain farmers

The Moose Jaw Health Foundation has launched a fundraising campaign aimed at Saskatchewan farm families who want to help pay for equipment in the new city hospital.

Through the 25-Acre Challenge, farmers pledge to donate the net profit from 25 acres, or more, to the Farming for Five Hills fundraiser. They can sign up for one or three years.

Andrew Swenson, co-chair of the campaign, said farmers can decide post-harvest which crop proceeds they want to donate and will re-ceive a charitable tax receipt and recognition.

A gift of $2,500 or more, or about $100 per acre, will be acknowledged on the donor wall in the hospital.

“We’re trying to get everybody in the region involved,” he said.

Although the hospital is in Moose Jaw, it will serve the Five Hills Health Region, which includes rural areas around the city. Every farm in the region received a letter and commitment card informing them of the opportunity.

“We wanted to create a cool program that built a kind of camaraderie around the hospital.”

The campaign doesn’t have a specific financial goal but he said it would be great to see 50 to 100 farms participate. Swenson said the region is generous.

“We hope we will be one of the charities of choice for this year for those folks,” he said.

The campaign hopes to raise money for the first MRI outside of Regina and Saskatoon, digital imaging equipment and expanded surgical facilities, as well as private patient rooms and improved labour and delivery services.

The Moose Jaw program is based on the successful Farming for Health project in Yorkton.

The Health Foundation of East Central Saskatchewan has been running the project for several years on land donated by the city. Local farmers, implement dealers and other agricultural businesses and suppliers do all the work and the inputs, except fertilizer, are donated. The net proceeds then go to the foundation.

The first year saw 700 acres of canola net $261,000 for the campaign. In the second year, 540 acres of canola and oats yielded $158,000.

Swenson said Moose Jaw wasn’t able to undertake a project like that because the city didn’t have any annexed land available. The decision to go forward with the 25-Acre Challenge was the next best option.

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