Even as June’s end neared, volunteers with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank Growing Project near Arborg weren’t throwing in the towel.
“We’ll do our best and we’ll grow something,” said Arborg farmer Lorne Floyd.
Floyd is one of about two dozen volunteers in the Interlake who’ve seeded and harvested a Growing Project along Hwy. 326 for several years.
This year’s prospects aren’t much better than last, when their 109 acres were too wet to spray and ended up being baled for feed. But given even a small window of favourable weather and field conditions, they’ll get them planted in the next few days, Floyd said on June 15. Wheat will be planted this year.
“You might say there’s still some optimism out there,” he said. “We’re going to seed right to the end of June. Maybe it won’t be the best quality, but we’re going to produce some food.”
Their resolve is shared among volunteers around the province.
The story for 2011 will be one of struggle, said Harold Penner, Manitoba resource co-ordinator with the CFGB. Yet despite setbacks that meant some project volunteers had to give up, others still hope to get their fields planted.
As of June 13, an estimated 67 per cent of total acres committed to projects were in the ground. Last year about 20 per cent of 4,200 acres went unseeded.
“We’ve had a few difficult years,” said Penner.
Equally discouraging is the fact that if weather was co-operating, Growing Projects could potentially be producing more than ever. The total number of acres committed for projects is on the rise, even as yields are lessening due to weather setbacks.
This year just over 4,900 acres have been committed to projects across the province.
Not all projects are impacted by weather this year, however. Some crops are up nicely and have been sprayed for weeds, Penner noted in an email update to volunteers.
Supporters know these projects help those who are a whole lot worse off than they are, he said.
“I think that sometimes these difficult times almost increase the motivation to help those in need,” he said.
Floyd, who travelled to India and Bangladesh in a CFGB food study tour last year, agrees.
“I guess we’re thankful for what we have, which is so much more than so many other people in other parts of the world,” he said.
While overseas, Floyd saw what can be achieved through CFGB food security programs, such as food-for-work programs, which pay food as wages to those building projects such as wells or schools to improve local communities.
Floyd saw a completed project any Interlake farmer could appreciate.
“They’d built this great big dike,” he said. “I don’t know how many miles long it was, but it was huge, with a 30-to 40-foot top that’s now one of the best roads they have. They now live on the other side of it and it has greatly improved the quality of their lives.”
– HAROLD PENNER, CANADIAN FOODGRAINS BANK RESOURCE CO-ORDINATOR FOR MANITOBA