Central Alberta Foodgrains project in search of land

A locally based charity is entering into its 20th year of helping meet the growing international need for food security.

A locally based charity is entering into its 20th year of helping meet the growing international need for food security.

Each year, through community involvement, the Central Alberta Foodgrains Charity Growing Project produces a crop on donated or rented land, and then after harvest, donates the proceeds to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

The funds raised through the project are used to help fight world hunger and are matched at a four to one ratio by the federal government.

Emergency food for people who are hungry in result of war, drought and international trade policies are assisted, along with providing tools and training for small-scale farmers.

Current important donations of food are being sent by the Canadian organization to Syrian refugee camps and the south Sudan. “This is really a community-based project,” said Doug Maas, committee member. “We have farmers involved, agri-businesses and many who help the cause.”

The local growing project is one of over 200 in Canada for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Around 30 growing projects are based within Alberta.

Despite its international reaches, the growing project is a 100% local operation, starting with the plot of land used to grow the crop. Some years the land is donated. Other years the land is rented.

Once the land is secured, input suppliers are approached to provide seed to start. In the spring, local farmers donate their time to prepare the soil and then seed. Afterwards, local agri-businesses are approached to provide fertilizer and other supplies. “In the fall, we have volunteers that swath the crop and volunteers that combine it,” said Maas.

The crop, which varies from canola, barley, spring wheat or winter wheat, is then sold locally at an elevator in Central Alberta.

Last year, the project raised $74,250 and with the matching government dollars, amounted to $371,250.

“We were very pleased with our Canadian Prairie Spring Wheat crop last year,” said Maas. “Again, local volunteer farmers and input suppliers were instrumental in our success as well as our Sponsor-An-Acre supporters.”

In 2014, the 175-acre field was located on land approximately 10 minutes southeast of Lacombe. Each year, the committee utilizes a different field somewhere within Lacombe County.

“In this way, we are able to involve different farmers each year and this helps us to gain wider visibility,” said Maas.

For the 2015 project, the organizing committee is in search of a piece of land within the County.

“If a local farmer is interested in providing or renting land and wants to become part of a much needed charitable project, they can contact me.”

One of the committee’s goals for 2015 is to reach a younger demographic of volunteers. Building off this idea, is their plan to develop a web site.

“Hopefully this will attract supporters and also keep everyone aware of crop development during the growing year and updated on events, such as our harvest barbecue.”

Contact Maas at 403-782-1860.