The Central Alberta Foodgrains Project is seeking land donors in order to carry out this year’s project.
Crops are grown in Canada – in this instance, right in Central Alberta – which are harvested and sold in order to supply the head organization with funds that are then allocated to grassroots organizations in various countries.
The Central Alberta chapter is part of the national Canadian Foodgrains Project, an organization that works locally to send food abroad in countries in need. The organization works through emergency food aid, education, advocacy and education in order to provide international food support.
Last year, the Central Alberta project raised $105,000.
All funds raised through local projects are also matched by the federal government four to one, bringing the total for the Central Alberta contribution up to over $500,000.
“The Canadian government believes in what we’re doing for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that we keep our administration costs incredibly low. We rely so much on volunteers and partner agencies that distribute our food around the world, that we can keep our administrative costs minimal,” said Doug Maas of the local chapter.
He said another reason the Canadian government remains in partnership with the organization is the high success rate of actually delivering food and aid where it’s needed.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a registered charity comprised of 15 churches around the country.
Each of these churches manage support agencies and people at ground-level doing humanitarian work in various countries.
Maas said the organization also works closely with other non-government organizations (NGOs) in order to get the relief where it is needed.
“We provide some emergency food assistance – in Syrian refugee camps, for example,” Maas said.
“We also do a lot of work in communities that have been hit by natural disasters, or regions like South Sudan that are in an unstable political climate. In Sudan right now, a lot of farmers have had to flee so not much food is being grown. That’s where we come in.”
He explained the organization also supports farmers around the world through seed purchases and enhanced farming techniques.
As well, the Canadian Foodgrains Project works heavily with nutrition education, especially for children, mothers and pregnant women.
Right now, the Central Alberta chapter is seeking someone who can contribute a piece of land to grow this year’s crops on.
Farmers either donate land, or the Foodgrains Project can pay a sum in rent for the duration of the growing process and harvest. It is not mandatory for land owners to help with the growing process, but Maas said that many times, farmers offer to help out in one way or another.
“We need a farmer to come forward at this time to help us get some land to grow on. We are always putting out feelers into the community for people to get involved but right now we don’t have anything firm,” he said.
He explained the group will grow whatever crop the farmer prefers to suit their growing rotation and schedule.
As well, the group is seeking ‘land sponsors’ from people who may not want to necessarily work the crops, or who don’t have the ability to do so. Maas said those donations are used towards fertilizers, seed and harvesting costs.
All donations are eligible for charitable tax receipts.
“We like to move the growing projects around and get different farmers involved, as it increases exposure and reduces pressure on hosting the same volunteer farmers every year,” Maas said.
For any interested farmers who have land to donate, please contact Vic Bergen at 403-782-2545.