Wednesday, 23 October 2013 14:40

Potato sales from church/Knights of Columbus to help out Swift Current schools

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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For the second year in a row the income from the Christ the Redeemer Church potato patch project will provide support to the breakfast programs at elementary schools in Swift Current.

Harvesting of this year’s potato crop on an almost two-acre piece of land next to Highway 4, just across the road from the Christ the Redeemer Roman Catholic Parish, took place Oct. 16.
Project co-ordinator Gord Hagen said about 40 people were out picking potatoes while others were sorting and bagging the potatoes at the church building.
“It’s been a good community project,” he said. “It’s one of those things that a lot of people get to experience something they don’t normally do in their regular day’s work and it’s just a good feeling program.”
The Knights of Columbus spearheaded the project with help from the entire parish to seed and harvest the potatoes.
“A lot of our men in the parish belong to the Knights of Columbus and it gives us a way to serve the church as well as the parishioners,” he said. “That’s the beauty of it. It brings people from the community, working on the project shoulder to shoulder with people that they don’t get a chance to associate in the same way with.”
According to Hagen, the project raised about $1,620 in 2012 that was donated to the elementary schools in Swift Current for their breakfast program. He is expecting a larger income from potato sales this year due to a much better crop.
Last year, a portion of the land was flooded, which limited the harvest to around 3,900 pounds. This year’s crop will be about 5,000 pounds, of which600 pounds has already been donated to the Salvation Army in Swift Current.
“We’ll do this again next year,” he said. “As long as we have access to the land, we’ll keep going with the project.”
Parishioners are also participating in another agricultural project to raise funds for the church building fund and with a portion of proceeds also donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
This year, the Christ the Redeemer growing project used about 160 acres of land for wheat, which was harvested about a fortnight ago. Around 100 families or “fundraising farmers” have participated in the growing project during each of the past two years.
“It allows parishioners who perhaps had farming backgrounds, maybe had a farm of their own, to reconnect with farming,” Hagen said. “They provide a little seed money for putting the crop in and just to cover some of those expenses.”
Assistant project coordinator Kevin Zerr said $7,300 from last year's canola crop, representing  10 per cent of the gross amount, was donated to the Canadian Food Grains Project.
“The government of Canada has a matching program,” he said. “It goes into helping Third World nations with their own food needs and farming projects.”
In 2012 the canola crop revenue and donations from “fundraising farming” partners provided $55,000 to the church building fund.
“Because we don't have machinery we need the support from local farmers with machinery,” he said. “The project is only made possible with this generous help from some local growers and businesses who helped seed, spray and harvest the field.”
The funds raised for the church building fund is going towards the second phase of the project, which will involve the construction of a 600 to 700 seat church sanctuary.
“It will allow us to complete our overall objective for this building that was to have a church and two halls and meeting rooms and business offices as well,” Hagen said. “The diocese requires that we have at least 50 per cent of the value in cash and/or pledges before we start. … We’re getting fairly close, we’re doing quite well.”
Anyone interested in buying potatoes from the potato patch project to benefit the local school breakfast program can call the parish office at 306-773-9524.

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