Foodgrains fervour overwhelms organizers

TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS – An incredible line of 26 combines stretched across the Killarney Growing Project’s 160-acre canola field west of town on Wednesday afternoon. More than 300 people attended the charity harvest event, which raises thousands of dollars for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Larry Cox/Photo

A record 26 combines, plus grain carts, semi trucks, and trailers assemble for Killarney Growing Project harvest


It was an epic vista last Wednesday afternoon, as 26 rumbling combines spread out across a field of swathed canola west of town.

The volunteer drivers – most carrying a passenger on board to witness the occasion – waited for a radio signal from the field operations manager, Myron Peters, for the cue to harness their horsepower, and proceed.

It was a historic event for the Killarney Growing Project.

“We have broken all records,” said Peters. “We have 26 combines, and I’m sure there are over 300-plus people out there. One of our drivers, Brian Burton, has spent two hours driving in his combine just to be part of this harvest today.”

Operators were each supplied with a radio, cautioned on their auger length, and warned to watch for the massive grain carts.

“Put your hand-held radios on Channel 1, and crack that radio as loud as it can go,” Peters told the drivers.

Overhead, a drone camera operated by Matt Reimer recorded the movement and grace of the combines, as they moved forward through the swaths of oilseed, crossing the Mayfair Colony land towards a massive line of waiting onlookers.

Last year, Brian Archibald created a stunning video of the Killarney Growing Project’s Canadian Foodgrains Bank Harvest in Killarney, at Dennis and Betty Turner’s land, and unleashed it online.

“That video had 1.1 million views,” said Peters. “It was incredible.”

This year the Killarney Growing Project decided to open their Lunch in the Field segment of the harvest to all comers: both to get their message out, and to offer a wonderful experience of agricultural life on the Prairies.

And new this year was a chance to taste the food of Ethiopia, one of the countries supported by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Twin sisters Fikira and Tizita Galbraith, who were born in Ethiopia, but grew up on a mixed farm north of Brandon, offered diners a taste of ethnic food from their homeland.

“These are rolls of injera, which you use to scoop up the beef tibs or the yemisir wat, using just your right hand,” they told the interested diners.

Injera is a highly fermented sourdough flatbread, made with flour from ground teff seed. It was light and bubbly, and very tangy and stretchy.

The beef tibs were spicy, tender, small cubes of spiced meat.

Yemisir wat was a dish of red lentils cooked with wat – a sauce made with onion, garlic and Ethiopian spices – and was richly aromatic and delicious.

Squares of honey bread were also on offer, with a mild and slightly sweet flavour that complemented the mild heat of the meat and lentil dishes.

“We didn’t cook this food ourselves,” admitted Fikira Galbraith. “The injera is very hard to make, although we have tried. There’s a restaurant in Brandon; it’s called ‘Tana,’ and it’s run by a wonderful couple who make authentic Ethiopian food. They prepared it, and gave us extra with our order so that everyone could have a taste today.”

Next to the twins was a series of long tables, filled with lunch and dessert prepared by the Willow Creek and Holmfield Hutterite Colony kitchens.

Pulled pork, from a slow-roasted barbequed hog attended through the night hours at Willow Creek, plus delicate white rolls, a delicious potato salad, tiny pickled cucumbers, fresh carrots and celery, and a cabbage salad filled the buffet.

Holmfield Colony provided the sweet end of the tables, with pumpkin spice squares and enormous double chocolate mint cookies.

Tim Hofer of Willow Creek Colony said he thought the CFGB harvest created its own special energy.

“It’s the cause, and the togetherness,” he said. “ We are all from different walks of life, and we have so much to be grateful for.”

Combine driver and Killarney Growing Project member Betty Turner said every part of Wednesday’s event was a success.

Just 100 of the 160 acres of L 252 Invigor canola had been ‘sold’ to donors for $250 (cost of inputs) at the beginning of the day, she said.

But that changed by the minute.

“By the end, we only had 13 acres left,” she said. “I hope we can still sell them, and we would take more. There were lots of donations in the pail during the lunch too. The canola yielded 60.8 bushels per acre, which was above average. It was a super crop, and it was amazing for that field.”

Harold Penner, regional resource coordinator with the CFGB, said that help was always needed somewhere in the world, especially Haita and Burma this year.

And every acre in Canada counted.

“Thanks to all of you who have come to participate in this meaningful event,” he said. “We do our little part, with our little acres here, and it’s all part of our fundraising for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.”

The local growing group is looking for a quarter section for next year’s project, so if you have the land to rent them, let them know.

And if you still wish to donate to the Killarney Growing Project, for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank – and maybe buy one of the remaining acres – contact Turner at 204-523-8852.

Watch next week’s Guide for more on the Foodgrains harvest day.

A TASTE OF ETHIOPIA – Local twin sisters Tizita (left) and Fikira Galbraith, who were born in Ethiopia, made a special delivery of some fragrant Ethiopian dishes during the Lunch in the Field. Diners got to sample authentic injera, beef tibs, yemisir wat, and honey bread.

DRIVERS FIRST – Combine operators were first up at the long and laden buffet during the Lunch in the Field. Willow Creek Colony provided trays of delicious pulled barbequed pork (pictured), along with salads and fresh rolls, while Holmfield Colony baked the desserts.

HEADERS TO THE FORE – Volunteer drivers, operating a whopping 26 combines, are pictured here with their headers taking up the crop, during the Killarney Growing Project’s harvest on Wednesday. The row of machines is so long you can hardly see the end of the line. One combine operator drove for two hours just to attend the event.

Kim Langen/Killarney Guide Photos

Killarney Growing Project raises $100K – and oversells field acres


Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME) in Killarney donated a big cheque during last Wednesday afternoon’s canola harvest by the Killarney Growing Project.

Jeff Cuvelier of RME said that $2,500 was achieved during their Red Power International Charity Golf Tournament, held at the Killarney Lakeside Golf Course on June 9, and helped along by some gorgeous weather for the golfers.

“It was a perfect day, and everyone had fun,” he said. “We had 116 people come out and play. And the money we raised that day will now be multiplied by four.”

Proceeds from the sale of the Growing Project’s canola crop, plus other donations, will eventually be deposited into the national Canadian Foodgrains Bank coffers.

And that final amount, less expenses, will then be matched by up to 4:1 by government grants, agreed the organizers.

Treasurer for the Killarney Growing Project, Vic Martens, said the group was delighted with this year’s venture.

“We ‘sold’ 53 acres on the day,” he said. “In the end, we had commitments and money for 183 acres, so we oversold. We also had $12,000 in money donations. The yield off the field was 9,809 bushels, which we hope to sell for over $10 a bushel. That would give us over $100,000 for the crop. And money is still coming in. Once we calculate all our costs and sell the crop this fall, we expect our net will be over $100,000 for the CFGB. With the matching donations, it could amount to half a million dollars to help feed and empower the hungry, and help to end hunger.”

And, one week after the event, another YouTube video was launched online to show the world how Killarney harvested their crop.

Last year, Brian Archibald created a similar video of the Killarney harvest, which garnered nearly 1.2 million amazed viewers.

On Wednesday, September 17, the video titled “26 Combines – Canadian Foodgrains Bank Canola Harvest 2017 – Killarney” hit the Internet.

“Brian Archibald did the swather footage, and Matt Reimer caught the combine footage,” said Killarney Growing Project volunteer and combine driver Betty Turner. “And Brian put it together to make the video. It’s just amazing.”

ROCKY MOUNTAIN GENEROSITY ­– Killarney’s Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME) held a golf tournament back in June to help raise money for the Killarney Growing Project. Pictured with the $2,500 cheque during the handover moment at last week’s Canadian Foodgrains Harvest event are, from left: Jeff Cuvelier and Wendy Yeo, representing RME, and Dan Penner (chair) and Vic Martens (treasurer), representing the Killarney Growing Project.

Kim Langen/Killarney Guide