Wednesday, 17 October 2012 11:24

Potato harvest set to help breakfast program in Swift Current schools

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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People gathered on a patch of land just north of Swift Current on Oct. 12 to dig out potatoes for a good cause.

The almost two acres of land, which is located next to Highway 4 and just across the road from the Christ the Redeemer Church, is the latest project by the local Catholic parish in support of charity.
About 25 people helped to hand seed approximately 4,000 hills of potatoes in the spring and a similar number showed up to dig them up.
“We’ve got a good crowd out just to gather the harvest in now, so that’s excellent,” project co-ordinator Gord Hagen said.
They harvested around 3,800 pounds of potatoes, of which about half has already been sold. The project also included a patch of corn, of which about 60 dozen has been sold.
“We’ve had lots of good comments and lots of interest in the project,” he said. “Most was in the parish but people outside in the general community who drove by and they saw the crop. Certainly we couldn’t have picked a better spot for visibility because we’re right beside the highway.”
According to Hagen some of the produce will be used for the parish fowl supper and a portion will be donated to the Salvation Army, but the bulk will be sold and the proceeds will be donated to the Swift Current separate and public schools breakfast program.
The Swift Current Knights of Columbus Council 3031 also got involved. They covered the cost of the seed potatoes, including the freight cost. Hagen said the parish will most likely have a similar initiative next year, especially the potato growing project.
“It’s something we may want to expand on even a little bit,” he mentioned. “Initially we were thinking of only putting in a few hundred hills but once we got into the project it just gained momentum. We just kept on planting.”
Assistant project co-ordinator Kevin Zerr said a portion of the land was flooded after some heavy rain in June, but the potato harvest was still excellent.
“We were fortunate,” he noted. “There was just enough rain at the start and we kept the weeds under control enough to let the potatoes thrive.”
Although this was the first year of their potato and corn project, the Christ the Redeemer parish already started another agricultural initiative last year to raise funds for their church building fund.
Next to the potato and corn patch is 75 acres of land that was used to plant canola along with another 80 acres located nearby. This year’s canola crop added about $55,000 to the building fund. A portion of income was also donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
A number of parishioners contributed dollars to the input cost for the canola project and the parish set up a farmer program to enable people to make donations and to take ownership of the project.
“I think it was very positive as well,” Hagen said. “It gets people thinking and realizing we grew up in Saskatchewan and we’re living in Saskatchewan. Agriculture is all around us. It’s kind of nice to reconnect.”
A number of organizations also became involved with the canola project. Their contributions are acknowledged with signs posted along the southern edge of the land along Memorial Drive.
“So there was a lot of local input into it, whether it was seeding equipment or whatever,” he said.
Anyone interested in buying potatoes from their project to benefit the local school breakfast program can phone the parish office at 306-773-9524.

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