Million-dollar milestones reached by volunteer harvests

Some projects have surpassed $1 million in straight donations, 
more have passed that mark when matching grants included

Growing Projects across Manitoba for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank are starting to reach some major contribution milestones.

Volunteers with the BMW (Boissevain Morton Whitewater) Growing Project took off their 17th consecutive harvest this fall, and when the crop is sold, it will push their group’s straight contributions (not including matching grants) to over $1 million since 1997.

(The CFGB has a funding agreement with the Canadian government that matches all donations 4:1.)

Farmer volunteers with the BMW finished harvesting a half section of soybeans off a field near Fairfax on a blustery afternoon October 22.

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People putting food in a donation box
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Annual contributions from the BMW have varied anywhere from $30,000 some years to upwards of $150,000, say organizers.

They have solid support from area farmers who come out to help harvest each fall, local businesses donating inputs, and two separate landowners who’ve consistently supplied land for these projects every year, says BMW project co-ordinator and Boissevain-area farmer Ben Martens.

“We’ve just been blessed,” he said.

According to Canadian Foodgrains Bank records, more projects have also surpassed the million-dollar mark, including the HOPE (Helping Other People Eat) Growing Project at Arnaud, which also began in 1997.

CFGB staff say its database (which dates to 2000) shows several projects have raised over $700,000 since that year, but when matching federal grants are included with their total contributions, several more have surpassed the million-dollar mark.

There are approximately 40 projects underway annually in Manitoba with about 5,500 acres committed in 2014.

This year has been a late one, with the last Growing Project harvest in Manitoba taken off at Arborg Oct. 25.

Community fundraisers for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank continue into November with various community breakfasts, suppers, auctions and concerts and next month’s second cattle auction on December 9. The auction sale will be held during a regularly scheduled auction day at Grunthal Auction Mart with all proceeds from sales of donated animals to be designated to the CFGB. Producers are invited to donate an animal to be auctioned off that day at 1 p.m.

Last year Canadian Growing Projects across Canada raised $15 million for overseas food programs supported by the CFGB. About two-thirds of the $3 million fundraised by Manitobans came from Growing Projects, with the balance coming from other types of fundraisers and donations.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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