A vegetable grow project by a local church will help to raise funds for the breakfast programs at various schools in Swift Current.
The Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church has been growing potatoes and other vegetables on a patch of land since 2012 to support the breakfast programs at local schools.
Harvesting of this year's crop on an almost two-acre piece of land next to Highway #4, just across the road from the Christ the Redeemer Church, took place on Sept. 25.
“You think in Swift Current you don’t really need it, but there are families that children maybe just don’t have enough to eat going to school,” project coordinator Gord Hagen. “So there is a need for it, and we’re quite happy to fill that as much as we can. We’re certainly not providing the schools with all the funds that they need. We’re just making a small dent, but still it makes you feel good being able to do something towards helping out. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Potatoes, corn, beets, onions, and spaghetti squash were planted this year. All the seed was donated and a Hutterite colony donated the potatoes to plant. There were some challenges during the growing season. It was a dry spring and germination was poor and late.
“Once the rain came finally in June, things started to grow,” he said “What we’ve got was excellent and we’re quite pleased to go forward with the sales now.”
Last year’s growing season was also poor, but they were still able to raise $2,388 for the school meal programs. He expected that sales from this year’s harvest will also be around the $2,000 mark. Most of the produce will be sold to parishioners, but anyone in the community is welcome to buy it.
“After mass when people are leaving, we’ll put up a table and just offer it for sale, or if somebody from the community wants to stop by the office while we got potatoes there for sale, or corn for sale, we’ll handle anybody that’s interested in it,” he said.
Funds raised will help to support meal programs at All Saints, Central, École Centennial, Fairview. Maverick, and O.M. Irwin schools. The piece of land for the project has been made available by a venture company in Saskatoon that owns it.
“We pay rent on it, but it’s been provided to us to use,” he said. “It’s just a good way of paying back to the community, and we’ve noticed there is a need for the schools and their breakfast program. The Knights of Columbus are the ones that basically do the majority of the work. One of our mandates is to help in the community.”
Other parishioners will help out with the project, and there is a lot of fellowship between everyone involved with it. During the past few years some Knights of Columbus members have also been visiting the nearby All Saints School to help the kindergarten class to plant their own vegetable garden.
“It’s just a learning experience for them,” he said. “This year they grew sunflowers and some potatoes and carrots and a few melons and so on. So the kids just get an eye-opener, because when you get to those classes and say how many kids have planted a garden before, you may have one or two that put up their hands, but the majority of them have never had any contact with planting or growing things.”
Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church also has a larger growing project on 160 acres of land. This project has been going on since 2011. A portion of this land is owned by the same Saskatoon company that provides land for the vegetable project, and it is part of the land across the road from the church.
About 85 acres of the land for this growing project is located north of the subdivision behind the Cypress Regional Hospital. That land belongs to a local landowner, Rod Murphy, who makes it available to the church.
Kevin Zerr, the coordinator of this growing project, said spring wheat was planted this year and it yielded about 50 bushels an acre.
“We have fundraising farmers who are usually members of the Christ Redeemer community,” he mentioned. “Then there’s also fundraising partners, which are local farmers, and then as well as people like Pattison Agriculture who are helping out as well, and then donations from some chemical companies and some local farmer donations as well.”
Around 70 to 80 families from the parish will support the grow project through donations for seed and fertilizer. Pattison Agriculture did the seeding and combining for this year’s project and also last year.
“The last two years they’ve been wanting to be involved in the project,” he said. “We don’t have our own equipment. It’s nice that they’re involved with it.”
A portion of the funds raised from this growing project is donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and the rest of the money is going toward the Christ the Redeemer building fund.
The parish has undertaken a large project for a new church sanctuary, which was completed last year. Income from the growing project helps to pay off the sizeable loan that was required to carry out the construction.