Two growing projects in the Interlake donated nearly $60,000 to the Canadian Food Grains Bank with yields from fields in both the RM of Bifrost and the RM of Rockwood on Sept. 5 and 6.
“The Arborg District Growing Project, coordinated by Sid Dueck, is one of nearly 40 growing projects across Manitoba that raises financial support for the Canadian Food Grains Bank,” CFGB Manitoba Representative Gordon Janzen told The Interlake Spectator on Sept. 10.
“This is an association of 15 national church bodies working together to respond to the needs of the many (815 million people) who are hungry in our world,” Janzen explained. “The growing projects provide a large part of donations to the Food Grains Bank, and those donations are matched, four to one, up to $25 million per year, by the Canadian government.”
The Arborg project harvested 75 acres in 50 minutes with eight combines on Sept. 6.
“We got 35 bushels an acre so that will result in close to $30,000 in revenue. We had a lot more people throughout the season pitching in to cultivate, seed, spray, swath and harvest,” Dueck said.
“We had a number of businesses donating inputs like Crop Production services, Patterson grain, Foster Farms, Manitoba Crop Insurance. Reimer building movers donated refreshments after the harvest for all the spectators and combine operators. (Morweena School) showed up with about 50 students.”
A similar project between Stonewall and Balmoral with a much smaller crew of farmers was able to raise a similar amount the day before.
“There were three of us that were involved with the Rock Solid growing project,” 21-year-old Nathan Tollenaar of Longawaited Acres in Balmoral said. Tollenaar works in tandem with Nick Matheson and Andrew Harris on this project.
“I am from southwestern Ontario. My family moved to the Balmoral area about four years ago, and we have some growing projects back home,”Tollenaar explained.
Tollenaar created the Rock Solid Growing Project in 2016.
“When I came there, I was shocked that a rural community like Stonewall and Teulon didn’t have a project like this going already,” he explained.
Once he brought the idea to the new community, the then 19-year old inspired them to get on board and help.
“New Life Church Baptiste Church in Stonewall held a Christmas offering in 2016 and they put together about $8,000 for us to get this project started. We wanted to start in 2017 but we couldn’t find anyone that was willing to rent land to us.”
Tollenaar said he and the two other farmers rented about 130 acres just east of Balmoral this year, after two years of not being able to find anyone to rent land from.
“We looked all last winter for a prime location and we found a piece close to the highway and it just didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to, but we were happy with the project, regardless,” he said.
Tollenaar said that they were able to raise approximately $30,000 of canola crop for the project. Seed and fertilizer was donated by a few local companies and they donated our own chemicals to it.
“Seeing younger farmers like that getting behind this cause, following in his families footsteps, is just so nice.” CFGB Communications Specialist Shaylyn McMahon told The Interlake Spectator on Sept. 7.
“It was just Nathan Tollenaar there at the time with his one combine. He’s finishing up his degree in agriculture at the University of Guelph, so he was just heading back to school the next day, so before he headed back to school for his next year, he took the time to combine this field and get the crop off to raise money for the cause.”
The Rock Solid Growing Project in the RM of Rockwood is hoping that next year they will find a better piece of land that isn’t as close to the highway.
To help, contact the Canadian Food Grains Bank by visiting their website at foodgrainsbank.ca or contact Tollenaar directly by calling 519-588-5024.