All harvests for Growing Projects in support of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank are now in the bins, with the last of this year’s projects wrapping up Oct. 9 near Thornhill.
This fall’s extended warm weather saw a flurry of activity earlier this month, with farmers finding time in the midst of their own harvests to donate time, tractors and combines to 29 Growing Projects across the province.
A total of 4,200 acres were committed to the projects this year.
Projects varied in size from anywhere from about 50 acres to 300 acres.
After harvest, all production is donated through the CFGB for overseas food aid and agricultural development projects.
The wet summer did reduce what farmers had hoped to give; 170 of the committed acres couldn’t be seeded due to wet conditions, while another 80 had to be worked down during summer due to excessive moisture.
Yields have varied from location to location.
“It was a mixed year this year,” said CFGB resource coordinator Harold Penner. “We had some very low yields and we had some really quite good yields.”
The weather clearly did not damper enthusiasm in the farm community for these projects.
On Oct. 4 there were 13 combines out in the Rivers area to harvest 120 acres. There the Growing Projects’ harvest also turned into a field day for school children from Grade 4, who joined the events to learn about different crops and what they’re used for.
Up at Swan River volunteers sat down the next day to fellowship and food in a luncheon served by the local church women before five combines harvested 80 acres of wheat in that area’s Fields of Jubilee project.
Another large community gathering sat down to a chicken dinner at Fairfax Oct. 6 before 14 combines took off 300 acres of wheat there.
Hard-hit Arborg farmers rallied four combines Oct. 4 to take off what turned out to be a disappointing crop. Yet, there again, the conversation was all about doing it again next year, said Penner.
“I’ve sensed a very positive spirit everywhere I’ve been this year even among those who had a hard year,” he said. “All in all I’ve sensed a lot of excitement around the projects again this year. They’re looking forward to next year as farmers do.”
The number of Growing Projects has been rising in Manitoba. Last year there were also 29 projects, while in 2008 there were 26 and in 2007 19.
Committed acres are also up this year. Last year’s 29 projects covered 3,543 acres and raised $905,428, according to the CFGB’s 2009 annual report.
“I’vesensedaverypositivespirit everywhereI’vebeenthisyeareven amongthosewhohadahardyear.”
– HAROLD PENNER, CFGB RESOURCE CO-ORDINATOR