Combines, farmers and dozens of other volunteers gathered under a sunny, blue sky to bring in 170 acres of barley for the Ponoka Foodgrains harvest.
This year local farmers are going to purchase the barley, said Foodgrains board member Larry Henderson.
Last year’s wheat crop went to poultry farmers, who used their poultry’s waste to fertilize this year’s field.
“The market’s up, it’s good,” said Henderson.
However, the yield is always a variable. “Crops have looked good in the area but not yielded well,” he said.
At approximately 65 bushels per acre, the crop brought in around $57,000 before grants are applied. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) matches funds raised 4:1. “It’s (the project) very powerful that way,” said Henderson.
Matched, Henderson says the total income is closer to $310,000. Cash donations came to about $4,500.
According to Terence Barg, regional coordinator for Alberta, CIDA will give up to $25 million per year in matching funds.
Barg said the Foodgrains project is in its third year of a five-year agreement with CIDA. “We want to remind them that people need our help.”
Foodgrains is running a postcard campaign to remind CIDA and the Canadian government about the importance of the project. “We realize that the Canadian government has a lot of power in their policy making. We want the Canadian government to remember hungry people in their policy making,” said Barg.
While Barg and Henderson feel the government may need a little reminding, the volunteers certainly don’t. “We really want to thank our volunteers …. without them we just couldn’t do this. We’d also like to thank our supporters,” said Henderson.
“I’m very excited to come out and see people coming together to make the world a better place by feeding our fellow human beings,” said MLA Rod Fox, who attended the event.
This year’s batch of volunteers included combine drivers Val Van Aken and Nicole Sehuur.
“It’s a good idea. It raises a lot of money,” said Sehuur.
“It’s an awesome way to put your hand in and help people,” added Van Aken.
Both girls grew up loving combining and it was their first year driving for the Foodgrains project. “We’re the next generation,” said Van Aken.
Van Aken has been riding in combines for four years and the day before the harvest was her first time ever driving one. “I love combining with my dad. It’s me and my dad’s time.”