By Jamie Rieger
Alta Newspaper Group
With much of the grain from southern Alberta Foodgrains projects in the bin, things are shaping up to be one of the best years thus far for the non-profit organization that grows crops each year for aid in impoverished countries around the world.
“So far, the crops in Medicine Hat, Coaldale, and Taber have been excellent. Coaldale had its highest yields ever,” said Andre Visscher, Foodgrains Bank regional representative for southern Alberta.
The Coaldale-Lethbridge growing project, which always grows barley, saw a yield of 144 bushels per acre on 158 acres planted on irrigated land. The bountiful crop reaped 56 pounds of barley per bushel.
“They always, always grow barley. There are lots of feedlots in the area who are buying from us and they are great supporters,” said Visscher. “Plus, barley is harvested earlier so it’s easier for the volunteers to help before they get to their own fields.”
Ed Donkersgoed, one of the organizers for the Coaldale project, said this year’s crop went well above his expectations.
“Most of us are veterans around the table and this went beyond any of our expectations. We have a lot of good guys and land,” said Donkersgoed. “We’ve always believed this project is blessed because it always seems to do quite well.”
The barley crop goes to area feedlots so knowing it is pre-sold makes things a little easier for the volunteers.
“We know where every truckload is going. Barley is a very marketable product for us here,” said Donkersgoed.
Wheat was planted at the Taber growing project and it too yielded good results at 94 bushels per acre.
“They had 16 combines going and it took them just over an hour. The volunteers are really amazing,” said Visscher.
The Medicine Hat Foodgrains growing project, just south of the city, reaped 2,375 bushels of wheat, raising approximately $14,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains bank.
Despite the tremendous crops grown throughout the region this year, the Canadian Foodgrains volunteers have had their share of challenges.