Friday, 26 August 2016 08:00

Vauxhall Foodgrains Project’s harvest raises $80,000

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The dust was flying on Highway 36 as 19 combines were busy getting the job done. The dust was flying on Highway 36 as 19 combines were busy getting the job done. Photo by Ryan Dahlman

It was a prime harvest day on Aug. 16 for grain farmers near Vauxhall, yet 19 combines which should have perhaps been picking up crops on their own farms, were not.
Instead, mini convoys of combines headed toward a field four miles north of Vauxhall on a quarter section of land just on the west side of Highway 36.


Those combines, along with a dozen semi-trailer trucks were congregated to complete — a harvest of a swathed barley crop and then carry those loads away all in the name of a worthy cause.
The Vauxhall Foodgrains Bank project was full steam ahead as the Aug. 16 harvest began in earnest about 1:30 p.m. and was completed a few hours later. The harvested crop, coupled with some donated crops from a few of the farmers, was sold for about $80,000.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank works with 40 countries which need, not only grain to help feed those impoverished due to drought, floods or war, but money generated also helps fund projects within those countries which help with starting or maintaining agriculture and nutrition programs. This aids in helping people with their own farming, water generation or food generation initiatives.
Tim van Der Hoek, one of the Vauxhall volunteer directors and organizers of the Vauxhall event was thankful and impressed with the efforts. It’s not like those who help just put in their time.
“It went pretty well; everybody wants to help and are proud to be there,” the project’s communications director explained Aug. 19. van Der Hoek added everyone was curious about the final results.
“I was getting phone calls and texts about the yields. That’s the nice thing, everyone is still interested even after the fact. Everyone takes ownership of the field and the results ... it’s good to see.”
The $80,000, coupled with the $35,000 generated from the pig roast fundraiser July 20 held at Bennen Farms will go a long way for the Foodgrains donation. van Der Hoek says they will figure out any costs incurred and determine exactly how much they will donate to the Foodgrains project this year. During an address prior to the harvest beginning it was mentioned the Vauxhall project has generated upwards of $5 million for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank since its inception in 2003. Donations are matched by the federal government 4:1 upwards to a total of $25 million.
It was not only an impressive sight to watch all 19 combines work together to harvest the quarter section (160 acres) of land, but the totals were more than respectable. The 2016 harvest pulled in 23,094 bushels or 444,780 kg of barley.
Market Place Commodities graciously gave them about $4 per bushel, which is an increase from the current market price of $3.60. Market Place also took
all of the harvested crop immediately. The volunteer drivers were assigned designated elevators at Picture Butte or Lost Lake where they could unload.
van Der Hoek noted they tried to be organized as those combines picked up the swathed barley crop and then unloaded on the trucks which had Richard and Peter Pepneck acting as quasi air-traffic controllers directing combines into waiting trucks and having them take full loads.
This was more efficient and none of the drivers were taking partially — filled trucks.
Contributions to the project, either through monetary donations or volunteer time in a variety of capacities, came from not only people in Vauxhall, but as well the M.D. of Taber, County of Newell and businesses as far away as Taber and Lethbridge.
“Everybody wants to be a part of it,” said van Der Hoek who also acknowledged the crowd which had gathered to watch. “A lot of people from Vauxhall wanted to see the end result ... it’s not just an agricultural thing. It says a lot about our project.”
van Der Hoek added that one aspect makes Vauxhall’s project so successful and that is the fact all age groups and people from a variety of religious faiths donate, contribute and are interested in the project.
The organizing committee, which is led by large-scale potato farmer Jan Bennen, consists of a devoted group of farmers and area volunteers of all age groups. The fact younger generations of farmers, including van Der Hoek, want this to succeed bodes well for the project’s future.  There is no question they will be doing it all again next year, it’s just a matter of where. The Vauxhall committee were grateful they were able to work with 40 Mile Ventures this year for a piece of land. It was adjacent to Highway 36 and accessible for all volunteers. 
“40 Mile Ventures gave us a prime piece, a great location. It was really good of them and we’re very appreciative of them, and it wasn’t like they said ‘okay here’s the land, good luck.’ They offered to help spray, seed — they were involved in the process all the way along,” explained van Der Hoek about this year’s landowners.
“We will sit down in October as a group and see what we can get (for 2017).”

Read 921 times Last modified on Wednesday, 24 August 2016 14:41
Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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