Farmer grows for the food bank

Steve Breum of Alberta Farm to Food Bank grows crops that are easy to store throughout the winter, such as potatoes. | Photo provided by Alberta Farm to Food Bank

Alberta Farm to Food Bank started out as a way to give back to the community and to sustain Steve Breum’s farm.

“I liked the idea of Grandma and Grandpa’s food bank,” Breum said.

“The winter vegetables, the potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, and turnips. That’s what Grandma and Grandpa’s survival food was because they could store them and get through the winter.”

Alberta Farm to Food Bank started in the spring of 2018 near Pigeon Lake. Since then, it has donated 100,000 pounds of fresh food to food banks. The goal is to provide healthy, locally grown food to people in need.

“It’s just a great way to give back,” Breum said. “And I mean, we’re farmers. We love growing food.”

Originally, they sent their food to food banks in Edmonton and Calgary, but recently, Breum has changed the program to help out smaller, more local food banks.

“It’s all great reactions from all the them, but the little food banks are probably more excited to see us than the big ones because they really need it.”

Craig Haavaldsen is the founder of Rock Soup Greenhouse and Food Bank, located in Wetaskiwin, Alta. He started the food bank after losing his job due to the pandemic, and wanted to create a place that was barrier free and trauma informed.

“As we kind of met each other and discussed the whys and hows and our dreams, it came down to the same thing, and that’s providing sustainable access to healthy food for everybody,” said Haavaldsen, who works with Alberta Farm to Food Bank.

Volunteers pack vegetables into boxes to take to food banks. | Photo provided by Alberta Farm to Food Bank

He said working with the organization has given the food bank more than just extra produce.

“Where we can produce some sustainable produce on site, being able to partner with a larger agricultural partner like that allows us to not just have a proof of concept but to be able to take that one step further and to see what it looks like in a service model.”

Alberta Farm to Food Bank takes donations through a Go Fund Me page. The donations all go toward producing the food.

“But with this initiative, if you give $10, $10 goes to food to help people. So we’re not using that money along the way for administration across the top. Every dollar donated goes to food production.”

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