Alta. foodgrains project marks quarter century

Multiple combines had the field covered when the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project harvested its crop Nov. 3.  |  Leanne Zukowski photo

A record number of combines bring in the crop for the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project near Blackfalds, Alta.

BLACKFALDS, Alta. — The early November harvest of 120 acres of canola marks a quarter century that the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project has supported the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

While the COVID-19 pandemic halted the local organization’s 25th anniversary celebrations, it didn’t stop the important work done by Lacombe County farmers.

In fact the 2020 harvest is one for the record books.

The harvest involved 19 combines, three super-B trailers and other farm equipment, which gathered at the Blackfalds area field on the 16 C afternoon of Nov. 3. The canola, which had been swathed in mid-September, was cleared in one hour and 20 minutes.

Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project committee members said they were humbled by the turnout.

“We had five (combines) confirmed last night, but we had a lot of maybes,” says committee member Doug Maas. “All the maybes arrived.”

It was the most combines the organization had seen on a field at one time in all of its 25-year history. Maas said the group also appreciated that the local business, Vision Truck Lines Inc., supplied grain trailers as it has done in the past.

The canola was sold through Richardson Pioneer at Lacombe, Alta., which said 6,567 bu. were bought at $11.7858 per bu. equalling slightly less than $77,400. Funds will be forwarded to Canadian Foodgrains Bank in Winnipeg, which will use the funds to combat world hunger.

“They’re constantly assessing world events and working with locally based organizations to meet emergency food needs,’’ Maas said of the foodgrains bank.

He said that although Canada has significant challenges with the pandemic crisis “the countries we support don’t have the financial or medical resources that our governments do to help people in need during COVID-19.”

The Aug. 4 devastating warehouse explosion at the port of Beirut in Lebanon on Aug. 4 is one example of an event that has triggered a Canadian Foodgrains Bank response. In addition to the deaths, injuries and losses of homes, much of Lebanon’s food stored at the port was destroyed, creating concern over an increase in hunger.

This was at a time when the country was and continues to be challenged with COVID-19, a collapsing economy, and tremendous strain from the huge influx of Syrian refugees who fled conflict in their country.

The Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project was started in 1996 by a group of Lacombe County farmers. Vic Bergen is one of three original founding members still involved.

“We’ve always focused on being a community project”, says the retired farmer. “We don’t go through a particular church.”

Since 1996, the Central Alberta Foodgrains Growing Project has raised $1.42 million.

The federal government then tops up the donation at a four-to-one ratio.

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