The COOL growing project field near Springstein was one of the last to be harvested in Manitoba. On November 6, volunteers harvested 80 acres of soybeans. With -10° winds, it wasn’t just COOL…it was downright COLD! (Photo: Submitted)
More than 5,000 acres dedicated to helping end global hunger
Many Manitoban farmers are happy to bid farewell to last year’s challenging season. Yet thanks to their efforts, many people around the world will receive the support they need to feed their families.
Thirty-five growing projects in Manitoba this past season saw farmers and farm supporters come together to plant, tend and harvest a crop to help people experiencing hunger through Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
When it came time to harvest in the keystone province, early cereal yields were respectable despite the dry summer. For late-harvest crops, however, it was another story.
September and October saw the opposite of summer conditions, with heavy rainfalls and very wet weather including a severe storm in central and southern Manitoba that residents dubbed “snowmageddon.” Farmers often couldn’t get on their land until after the ground froze in late October, and in some places, it was difficult to harvest crops like wheat and canola that were pushed down by snowfall.
“It was too dry and hot through the summer, and that affected the yields.”
“We planted wheat, canola and soybeans on 450 acres, and the spring was just fine for seeding,” says Tony Peters with the FOCUS growing project in Portage la Prairie. “But it was too dry and hot through the summer, and that affected the yields. In the fall there was a lot of rain, which prolonged harvest. We got most of our crops off but did have to draw on crop insurance for our field of soybeans.”
When the Abundant Harvest growing project near Steinbach held its annual harvest banquet on November 12, it was the first time in their nine years of operation that farmers were still trying to complete harvest.
“In September we had three to four times the amount of normal rainfall, so it was hard to keep our equipment ‘above water,’ as they say,” says Ed Peters who volunteers with the project. “Normally we’re done by the first week of November at the latest, and this year it was mid-December.”
“I spoke with farmers across Manitoba, and I heard many times that it was a relief to have the year over with,” says Gordon Janzen, Foodgrains Bank regional representative for the province.
Growing projects of all sizes affected
In West St. Paul, the Saints F.A.I.T.H. growing project also faced challenges. Volunteers with the project grow a variety of vegetables, selling the crop to support the Foodgrains Bank, and then donating the rest to support efforts to reduce local hunger. The project started seven years ago, when St. Benedict’s Monastery was looking for a use for their 1.4-acre garden.
“A couple of close-by parishes started the growing project because the Foodgrains Bank helps so many people by getting food aid to the people who need it,” says Steve Gadient who leads the project.
Gadient added that the monastery still chips in too, and they now have about 30 volunteers. For the most part, things worked out this year. They picked tomatoes green, and they harvested all the corn before the serious rains, except for one 150-foot row. Other vegetables, like carrots and beets, could not be harvested and remain in the ground.
“We’re still thrilled to carry out this project so that families experiencing hunger can get the help they need.”
“We’re still thrilled to carry out this project so that families experiencing hunger can get the help they need,” says Gadient.
Resolve to end hunger remains strong
“Despite the challenges of this harvest season, most growing projects were able to harvest their crops and make a donation to the Foodgrains Bank,” says Janzen. “I’m continually inspired by the commitment of Foodgrains Bank farmers and growing projects, and the awareness in the farm community about the needs of hungry people in the world. On behalf of our member agencies that carry out our food programs, as well as the many families experiencing hunger who have benefited, thank you for making a difference.”
– Jason Permanand, Writer