The Coaldale Lethbridge Community Growing Project had sunny skies on Thursday and plenty of willing hands to bring in its annual barley harvest to benefit the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

“We have some awesome weather and a great crowd out to witness the harvest,” said Growing Project co-ordinator Larry Penner. “We have a quarter section of barley we are harvesting today. We’ve chosen barley specifically for the purpose so we can get our neighbours in the region involved. This is a large dairy, feedyard location; so many of our clients who have bought the grain coming off our field today are local ag producers.”

The CLCGP took bids of $177,000 during the Mennonite Central Committee sale in June, and Penner hoped to realize almost all of that with the amount and quality of the product coming off the field Thursday. This year’s total adds to the $1.48 million already raised by the project since its inception, he said.

Andre Visscher, southern Alberta regional co-ordinator for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, said he couldn’t thank all the volunteers and contributing companies enough for doing their part throughout the crop year culminating in a wonderful harvest and a fantastic donation to his organization. 

That $177,000 will be matched four to one by the federal government, making the total impact of this year’s growing project about $700,000 in real dollars, he said.

“It makes my heart feel warm — it’s really great,” Visscher stated. “It means we can with these funds help people in the world who do not have enough food. There are still many people in the world that go to bed every night hungry with only one meal or no meal a day. We are working in Africa and southeast Asia in those areas where they had cyclones earlier this year, and we are able to supply emergency food. And now we are working with them to put a new crop in the ground, and getting them tools and seeds so they can grow food for themselves.”

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