Sowing food security awareness

Employees, volunteers and a farmer involved in Grow Hope Saskatchewan stand in front of a donated barley field. Left to right are Stewart Mitchell, Brian Hergott, Justine Shenher, Rick Block, Mike Leblanc and Dawn Kellington. Photo: Contributed
Published November 1, 2023

Diocese of Qu’Appelle, PWRDF join Grow Hope Saskatchewan

The first year of Anglican participation in an agricultural famine relief charity is aimed at raising awareness first and money second, says an organizer.

Earlier this year, the diocese of Qu’Appelle partnered with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank— a coalition of churches and church-linked agencies— on Grow Hope Saskatchewan. The project uses community donations to sponsor farmers raising money for a famine relief fund with an account at the foodgrains bank dedicated to PWRDF projects. Donors’ money funds farmers’ fuel, seed, fertilizer and other production costs on land they set aside on their farms, turning donors’ initial investment into a larger return for the charities.

The size of the return depends on seasonal yields, price fluctuations and what crop they’re growing, but according to a blog run by students and faculty at the University of Guelph’s food, agricultural, and resource economics department, an acre of corn (0.4 ha) might be expected to produce an average of $518 profit. Rick Block, a Saskatchewan representative for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, says it costs Grow Hope $350 to sponsor each acre of land.

Kim Umbach, volunteer coordinator for PWRDF, says the Anglican project’s first year raised enough money to sponsor six or seven acres (2.4 to 2.8 ha) of farmland, not much compared to the 30 to 40 acres (12 to 16 ha) longer-running Grow Hope projects are sponsoring. But no one expected the project to keep pace in its first year with ones that have been operating for years.

In the meantime, Umbach says, the process of building awareness offers opportunities to get urban Anglicans thinking about the process of where food comes from, build ties between urban and rural parishes and promote the work PWRDF does to improve food security in regions like Kenya and South Sudan.

In future years, says Umbach, PWRDF will be watching the project’s growth with a view to seeking out other dioceses interested in signing on to Grow Hope Saskatchewan and possibly encouraging similar partnerships in other provinces.

The money raised through Grow Hope is deposited in PWRDF’s account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which it can draw from to fund its own projects or use to support the work of other members. Aside from making it easier to share funds, Block says, the coalition structure allows the churches to make their concerns heard as one voice with Global Affairs Canada, which matches funding for some projects funded through Canadian Foodgrains by up to four times.


  • Sean Frankling

    Sean Frankling’s experience includes newspaper reporting as well as writing for video and podcast media. He’s been chasing stories since his first co-op for Toronto’s Gleaner Community Press at age 19. He studied journalism at Carleton University and has written for the Toronto Star, WatchMojo and other outlets.

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