This John Deere combine got the celebrity treatment during the Canadian Foodgrains Bank harvest day Sept. 29 near Ponoka with local MP Blaine Calkins getting the first turn at the wheel. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Charity harvest reaches historic anniversary

Ponoka event for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank reaches 20 year mark

It takes dedication, commitment and selflessness to do what has been done in the Ponoka area to help those in countries less fortunate.

On Sept. 29 the local harvest to benefit the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFB) reached a milestone. For 20 years, the same land has been growing crops for the Christian charitable organization that is dedicated to providing assistance to eliminating hunger, especially so in African nations.

The land, located south of Ponoka along the C&E Trail just west of Highway 2A and north of Spruce Road, this year provided 175 acres of wheat with the help of several area farmers, businesses and numerous pieces of farm equipment.

Mike Reed, a member of the local organizing committee, said everyone was pretty excited about hitting that two decade mark.

“It says a lot for our community. We have a lot of local farmers and local businesses that have supported the project for all 20 years,” he said.

“We did some quick figuring about how much Ponoka has raised in that time and the number that has been raised off of this field is just over $1 million. That’s pretty neat.”

What makes that figure a bit more incredible is that number gets quadrupled by matching dollars from the federal government.

He added that means a lot of aid has gone to help those less fortunate, all by people willing to doing some little things that add up.

“Helping other people who have less, that’s what it is all about,” Reed said.

“There is always the thrill of growing a crop, a good crop always makes you feel good and it’s kind of like coming here with the community aspect. We always feel great about working with the community and when you see how much we have, when you read or see about others who have less, we feel almost guilty so it’s easier to give back.”

When asked about how this particular harvest event has lasted so long, Reed acknowledged it was all about the commitment of the farmers, community businesses and other volunteers.

“We say thank you so much to them. They have taken the time from their busy schedules and lives, from their harvest to come out to help,” he stated.

“Farmers have always come together, be it threshing or raising a barn, so this is an extension of that farmer friendship, comrade and its still alive. That’s neat and it’s part of being a farmer.”

Two local political representatives — MP Blaine Calkins and MLA Ron Orr — were on hand to extend congratulations to the group for all they have done to help out those less fortunate, with both noting 20 years is an amazing accomplishment and what the spirit of giving is all about.

And in a nice little surprise, CFB Alberta coordinator Andre Visscher brought a thank you to the group from some of the people their fundraising has helped.

“It really makes a difference. When I visited Ethiopia recently and met a family that had received funds raised here, they wanted me to come back and say thank you. This farmer grows about two acres and gets about eight months of food, but with the CFB assistance, he has increased his yields and now his family is food secure for the entire year,” he stated.

“Tell them all thank you.”