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Cabri District Lions Launch Community Farming Project

It all starts with an idea and it doesn’t even have to be your own. The southwest Saskatchewan community of Cabri is no different than many small towns across the Prairies. The challenge? A community of 439 people needs to raise money quickly to help save its 53-year-old swimming pool.

Funds are needed for the pool along with other town amenities, such as the rink, hall and school. These facilities attract people to the area, keep community spirit alive, and make Cabri a great place to live.

For over 50 years the Cabri District Lions Club has been a cornerstone of the community whenever something needed to get done. But faced with the big challenge of the pool, it was time to look at the strengths of the entire community and then tap into them.

“When you look around the table at our Lions’ meetings, many of our members are the best farmers in the world,” says David Gossard, Lions member and mayor of Cabri. He is also a local grower. “We had heard of other successful farming projects in Lember, Eston and Strathmore so decided to spearhead our own.”

The club has 39 members and when asked who wants to be on the Farm Team, many hands went up. The Farm Team started meeting last year and developed a vision for the project. “Our vision is to launch a fun, exciting and visible community fundraiser that focuses on our natural abilities and feeds our spirit, ” Gossard says.

THE COMMUNITY FARM PROJECT

So how would they do this? The Lions decided they would rent, farm and market production from a quarter of land. While this is a big project and expenditure, club members figure it will provide a significant return on investment to the community.

The first big challenge was to find some suitable land that would be in a central location and easily accessible for area growers moving large farm equipment. The team had to keep in mind that the growers doing the farming would be busy with their own farm operations at the same time. Ideally the land would be nearby and on the highway for exposure.

While they didn’t get “highway exposure” they were able to rent a quarter only a few miles from town from fellow Lion, Bruce Carlton. The quarter, SW 34-19-19 W3, is split into 80 acres of durum wheat stubble and 80 acres of chemfallow.

SPONSORS COME ON BOARD

Bayer CropSciences has already stepped forward and donated 80 acres of InVigor 5770 canola seed. This new variety will be seeded on the chemfallow. The team has decided to seed the other 80 acres to red lentils and is looking at newer varieties that perform well in the area. Growing two crops will also spread out market risk.

Alpine Plant Foods has also come on board by donating 80 acres of liquid fertilizer to get our crop off to a great start. This will be put down with the seed.

So that more revenue can be returned to the community, the team will do its best to seek sponsors of all inputs. A field day is being planned for Thursday, July 8. This will be a great day for sponsors to showcase their products and services.

“You already have a target audience of 30 growers who are Lions, let alone all the other growers in the area,” says Gossard. “It’s a great avenue to promote your company, a new variety, chemistry or equipment.”

As with all farming operations, there is risk involved. To help cover the cost of land rental, hail and crop insurance, the club is looking for people with a connection to the area to sponsor an acre. It is hoped that all 160 acres will find a sponsor at $100 per acre. Not only will sponsors feel good about helping the community, the donation is a tax deduction.

While this is a Lions initiative, Gossard stresses that it really is a community project and that anyone can get involved. “We’re inviting all community members to participate in this farming project,” he says. “Whether you want to come and help with seeding, spraying and harvest, donate inputs or sponsor an acre we’d love to have your support.”

Page Newton chairs the Cabri District Lions Farm Team. For more information on this project she can be reached at 306-774-4888.

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