A Killarney charity project has resulted in a show of neighbourliness that will stretch around the globe.
The occasion was the harvest of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) Killarney Grow Project, and it wound up being a display that impressed even the organizers.
“It is amazing how the community came together. For the three swather operators to work until 10 p.m. to get their job done and then 20 combines to show up the following day, and have 200 people come to witness it, it was just overwhelming. We couldn’t do it without their support,” said Betty Turner, project board member and Killarney-area producer.
For the past eight years the Killarney Grow Project has rented a piece of land, grown and harvested a crop all through volunteer labour and donation, and then donated the proceeds to the CFGB.
“This will be year No. 8 that we have been involved in this and it kind of started off on my father’s land,” said Myron Peters, project field manager. “We had a quarter section and he had retired from farming and wanted to get this project up and running again. So, a small committee was formed. The first year we had maybe five combines out there and it has just grown every year.”
This year, the CFGB Killarney Grow Project held its harvest event on Aug. 6 and saw a record number of participants.
“This project is just a great way to help people in need and bring the community together, because there are so many aspects of putting the crop in that different people can be involved in,” Peters said.
At the event, 20 modern combines and one vintage 1957 model 35 Massey Harris, harvested 140 acres of Emerson winter wheat.
With four grain carts and five semi trucks, the wheat quickly made its way to a neighbouring storage bin where it will rest until sale.
“There were a ton of volunteers involved from start to finish. You could never do a project this size by yourself,” Turner said. “It was really fun and at the same time really moving.”
The greater community of Killarney and area also played a role in the fundraising of the project by sponsoring acres.
“We did the acre sponsorship thing again this year and we are at about 93 per cent sold. So, we do have a few acres left if anyone is interested in sponsoring an acre,” Turner said.
Funds fight hunger
Every CFGB growing project donation across the country is matched four to one by the federal government.
Last year the Killarney Growing Project harvested 148 acres of canola and raised $90,000.
“With the government being involved and matching anything that we can produce, times four, you can really get some substantial numbers up there,” Peters said. “Plus, the Foodgrains Bank isn’t just a handout. It is involved in first getting people back on their feet but then showing them techniques and ways they can do their own farming in their own countries so that they have a chance at sustaining themselves.”
Donations to the CFGB are put towards the organization’s overarching goal of fighting global hunger, reducing malnutrition and achieving sustainable food security.
In 2015-16, the CFGB helped over one million people in 40 countries by providing food in times of crisis and helping people grow more food to better support themselves.
Last year in Manitoba, 29 similar CFGB efforts were held throughout the province, growing and donating approximately 5,750 acres.
“This crop is not sold yet because it wasn’t 100 per cent dry but that is good. It gives us a couple more marketing options,” Turner said.
“We have got around that 65 to 70 bushels an acre this year and with all the rain that we have had we are very happy with the outcome,” Peters said. “The disease level in the wheat is also next to none so we are very thankful for that as well.”
This year the Killarney Grow Project’s crop was seeded 10 miles east of Killarney on land rented from Dennis and Betty Turner, who have a special reason to celebrate the CFGB’s efforts on this particular piece of the farm.
“This year is our farm’s 125th anniversary, so we had just received our new farm sign and this project was a good way for us to give back,” Turner said. “In 1891, Dennis’s great-grandfather farmed on that very corner that we held the CFGB field. So, it was kind of special in that way for us personally.”
In February of this year the Turners also took part in a CFGB tour that took them to one of the regions where donations are put to work, drought-stricken Ethiopia.
“We have been to Ethiopia and we know that this makes a difference,” Turner said. “I think we knew in our hearts before that it was making a difference but now that we have seen it first hand, we know it makes a difference. We know that all the effort and the time that people take is making a tremendous difference in the lives of those who need it and they are just so thankful for it.”
Ethiopia is currently experiencing the worst drought in decades and 80 per cent of its population subsists on rain-fed agriculture.
“For the Ethiopian people this project really just reassures them that other people care about their struggles and I think that the best part about this project is that we get such awesome community support and you know when you are organizing it that other people care as well,” Turner said.
For more information on the CFGB Killarney Grow Project or to sponsor an acre, contact Myron Peters at 204-534-7861.
A drone video of the Killarney Growing Project’s harvest, shot by Killarney-area producer Brian Archibald, can be seen on YouTube.