Foodgrains bank seeds 170 acres of canola for charity

Ponoka’s Foodgrains Bank seeded 170 acres of field May 18 to plant the crop that will help feed Third World countries.

On May 18 volunteers got to work to seed 170 acres for the Ponoka Foodgrains Bank. The $300

By Jasmine Franklin

It’s that time of year again — Ponoka’s Foodgrains Bank was out seeding 170 acres of field May 18 to plant the crop that will help feed Third World countries.

This fall, the organization will harvest canola, last year it was barley.

“People need food more than ever in Third World countries and we help to play a big part,” organizer Larry Henderson said. “We are lucky enough to have people working throughout the year on the crop.”

Pentagon Farm Centre donated the use of a $300,000 Fent 936 tractor to seed the field and a contour air drill worth $200,000. Representative Bryan Williams says it’s for a great cause.

“The Foodgrains Bank does a great and important thing,” Williams said.

Keith Lyon with Morris Industries — a worldwide manufacturer of agricultural equipment — was also out in the field May 18 supporting the Foodgrains Bank.

“They have done great work throughout Canada to help and support the hungry,” Lyon said. “It’s a good cause for very worthy people.”

Ponoka Fertilizer donated supplies to the organization and all seeds were also donated. Jay Bruggendate helped draw up a soil map for the field listing soil quality in specific areas. All of the booking and soil work is also free.

“We are very fortunate,” Henderson said.

Last year, the organization raised $57,000 for Foodgrains Bank Canada. During the harvest, Terence Barg, regional co-ordinator for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, said that $47.7 million was sent overseas and spent through foodgrains aid and security projects in 2009 and about 2.1 million people benefiting from the cause.

Active foodgrains member and treasurer Henry Pregitzer, 89, began with the organization when it launched in Ponoka 13 years ago.

“You see all the hunger in the world but we can feed them right here,” Pregitzer said.

As for Henderson’s goal for this year — he simply wants to do as well as they possibly can.

Through a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies, the organization works to end world hunger by raising money to feed others in countries such as Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Congo. For the 2008/2009 year, $12.4 million was donated by Canadians, a $4-million increase from the previous year. The federal government supports the program by providing a 4:1 dollar match. Therefore, a $1 donation becomes a $5 donation.

Ponoka’s project was one among 83 on the prairies in 2009 — 33 of those were in Alberta alone.

The community-based project is always looking for volunteers and those who wish to donate time, equipment or money can call Henderson at (403) 782-5218.