Young Alta. farmer gives back with Foodgrains Bank project

Mikaela Lemay is taking her farming skills to the next level, volunteering her time to help raise funds for people in need.

With the help of others, Lemay is farming 42 acres near Trochu, Alta., donating proceeds from grain sales to charity. The project that was kickstarted by both the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Viterra.

“This is really good to do and give back,” she said. “People might think donating your time is a big investment, but I think the skills that I’ve been getting back have been well worth it.”

Viterra donated the land, located by its Trochu terminal. In total, the company has donated 373 acres of land in five locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan for similar charity projects.

For Lemay, it’s been a year of firsts.

Even though she grew up on a farm, the project has allowed her to fully learn how to run an operation, including all the paperwork when it comes to marketing her product.

“It has certainly been a big change,” she said. “I’ve always helped out on the family farm, but this is a completely different thing.”

But she hasn’t been completely on her own.

She said dealerships have helped out by donating equipment, and neighbours and other farmers have volunteered their time.

“They helped me out a lot this year by guiding me through my journey,” she said. “I’m still learning more about it.”

Lemay said she learned of the Foodgrains project through her mom. She thought it would be a great opportunity to foster her farming skills.

As well, she said she’s always wanted to better connect urban people with agriculture. That’s why, as part of the project, she invited people from cities to attend harvest events.

“By having those events, I thought it could be a way to create conversations about farming with the general public,” she said. “It allows us to explain what we’re doing. It’s a way to say, ‘this is why we’re spraying our crops’ and ‘this is what we’re feeding our animals.’”

She plans on hosting a farm-to-table dinner to make more people aware of the project. It’s also time to thank volunteers, raise funds and potentially get others involved.

“It’s just a way to get more people to better understand who we are and what we’re doing,” she said. “It allows us to approach other people and businesses, asking them if they want to get involved.”

Lemay works as an agronomic assistant with Center Filed Solutions in Three Hills, Alta. She plans to take part in the Foodgrains project for as long as possible.

“It’s a long-term thing and it’s a really great thing to do.”

She plans on hosting more events and going to schools to discuss agriculture.

“When you’re young, you’re so focused on establishing yourself and growing yourself as an individual, and I think a big part of establishing yourself as an individual is giving back,” she said.

“Our main purpose is to be doing good for other people, and to be putting good out into the world.”

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