Volunteers reap harvest to end hunger

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Checking settings for high-tech machinery

By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Many people are wary of donating their hard-earned dollars without knowing its destination, especially considering high administration costs for some organizations. The Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) might just be the solution for those philanthropists.

On Oct. 14 farmers and volunteers harvested this year’s wheat crop for the CFGB, a Christian-based organization with 15 members whose goal is to end world hunger through Canadian involvement.

Ponoka has taken part for 14 years and volunteers grow and sell wheat from land just south of town.

Ponoka co-ordinator Peter Doornenbal said most of their seed and fertilizer is donated from businesses throughout the community.

“All of our costs are covered by donations including money and product.”

It was a warm sunny day and farmers from around the area were there for support and to work machinery. Seven combines, a swather and two grain trucks including equipment donated from Agro Ponoka were at the 170-acre parcel of land to harvest wheat.

Store manager Rick Cline said they have been there for the whole process, from seeding and fertilizing to combining.

“We do it for the spirit of the project and because it’s a really good cause,” explained Cline.

Ponoka co-ordinator Larry Henderson said they hoped to harvest 50 to 60 bushels per acre but there was low yield due to a wet spring season, which gave them a little less than 40 bushels per acre.

Henderson said they received $2,000 in cash donations and will be able to sell the straw bales for approximately $3,000.

In the time they have been farming the land, the Ponoka Foodgrains Project has raised $641,500 and because the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) matches the amount 4:1, the number is $3,207,000. Their goal is to provide sustainable solutions to countries in need of aid.

“We will probably make around $38,000 this year and when you add the CIDA amount it will be approximately $190,000,” said Henderson.

Regional co-ordinator Terence Barg said 95 per cent of the food goes to the intended target. CFGB manages the money for its members and allocates funds to programs they need. Barg gave the example of the recent famine in East Africa and said they programmed $8.8 million to Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

CFGB created food sustainable programs in countries affected by drought or famine to give farmers an opportunity to be self-reliant and to build on already existing programs.

“We do food aid, food security projects to help people grow their own food, and we do a nutrition program so it’s not just food aid,” Barg explained.

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