Alberta agronomist passionate about agriculture—and giving back to help people who are hungry

Thursday, September 6, 2018

“I thought this could be a way to create a conversation about farming with the general public to explain what we’re doing,” says Mikaela Lemay, who volunteers to help farm land around Viterra’s Trochu, Alberta terminal. Once harvested, the proceeds from the sale of the crop will be used to help end world hunger. (Photo: Amanda Thorsteinsson)

Mikaela Lemay cares about agriculture.

“I was raised in agriculture, as a child I always knew I wanted to be on a farm and be involved in agriculture when I grew up,” says Lemay, 22, an agronomist in Three Hills, Alberta.

“I’m super passionate about it.”

What she isn’t passionate about is Canada’s rural-urban gap. This really hit home after hearing some misinformation from city friends about her rural roots.

Lemay, who was raised Catholic, prayed and asked God for an opportunity to engage non-farmers on the topic of agriculture.

Her prayers were answered a few months later when she heard about a new partnership between Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Viterra, and the opportunity to farm 42 acres of land around Viterra’s grain terminal in nearby Trochu.

“As farmers, we are so fortunate and so blessed to see where our food comes from,” she says. “So when this opportunity came up, I thought this was my chance to promote agriculture.”

The project is part of a larger partnership between Viterra and Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which finds Viterra making 373 acres of land in five locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan available for projects that raise funds to help those who don’t have enough to eat in the developing world.

“I thought this could be a way to create a conversation about farming with the general public to explain what we’re doing,” says Lemay. “It’s a way to say, ‘this is why we’re spraying our crops’ and ‘this is what we’re feeding our animals’.”

“And what a better way to say we’re doing all these great things, while also giving back,” she adds.

One of the ways Lemay hopes to start those conversations is by hosting harvest events at the terminal and inviting people from nearby cities.

“Having a big event like that is such a community thing and building that kind of community around something special is a fantastic way to get people involved,” she says.

Lemay has recruited family and neighbours to help seed and spray this year’s wheat crop, while she scouts and monitors the field throughout the year.

Eventually, Lemay hopes to involve other young farmers in the project.

“I’m sure lots of young adults in the community are also experiencing the same thing as me where we want to start these conversations,” she says.

“We’re all likeminded individuals, we all have a passion for agriculture, and we love what we do, so this is a great way to start that conversation, do some good, and make good connections in the sector.”

Lemay believes it’s important for young Canadians to volunteer and support those who are less fortunate around the world.

“When you’re young, you’re so focused on establishing yourself and growing yourself as an individual, and I think a big part of establishing yourself as an individual is giving back,” she says.

“The main purpose [in life] is to be doing good for other people, and to be putting good out into the world too.”

For Lemay, it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, or if you were born in the city or the country—everyone can help people who don’t have enough to eat.

“We’re all humans, we all need to eat, we all need to give back,” she says. “I think whether you were raised in Calgary or if you were raised in Trochu, these kinds of things don’t change.”

– Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Assistant