Grain project plants seeds of hope

Volunteers and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank are once again planting seeds for a brighter future.

Volunteers and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank are once again planting seeds for a brighter future.

On May 31 two volunteers from Agro Ponoka, and a seeder, working for the Ponoka Food Grains Project gathered just south of Ponoka to seed 170 acres with barley.

Project co-ordinator Peter Doorenbal says a few acres might not be seeded this year because the fields have been so wet.

Simco Farms donated this year’s seeds and Agro Ponoka donated the seeder.

“It’s fun, it’s for a good cause, and you get to show off your equipment to farmers a little bit,” said Ferdinand Harkema, a sales rep at Agro Ponoka.

Once the seeds have grown and are harvested the grain will be sold and the profit given to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to be used in emergency situations in Third World countries. The money is sent to Winnipeg, where the head office of the project is, then distributed to the affiliated church groups and organizations.

Each year volunteers who work with Canada’s Foodgrains Bank are able to travel and experience first-hand how their efforts help. Henderson has been to Honduras and Nicaragua in previous years.

Approximately 10 years ago Hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua. “A lot of rebuilding was done with the help of Foodgrains sponsors,” says Henderson. “It’s just extreme poverty in some places. The people really have very little, yet they’re very happy. They appreciate everything they do have.”

As in past years food-for-work programs are still in place. Those in need are able to do work such as rebuilding their community after a disaster and for their efforts they’re given food.

“People want to be self-sustained,” Henderson said.

Currently there has been no profit to the project and according to organizer Larry Henderson it’s still to early to tell what the result of the donations will equal.

The Canadian International Development Agency is also still involved with the project and will be matching donations 4:1

It’s the Ponoka Food Grains Project’s 14th year and this year the project started weeks later than planned.

“You’re always at the mercy at the weather,” said Henderson.

However, just because the seeds are planted doesn’t mean they’re in the clear. Drought and hail can ruin a crop. However, Alberta Hail and Crop have donated insurance for situations like that.

This year’s volunteers were out in the field for several hours going in circles with the seeder and stopping periodically to check the equipment, but no one was complaining.

“It’s a farming community, so when they need your help they know where to find you,” Harkema said.

By Amelia Naismith