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A donation of 50,000 pounds (22,679 kg) of seed potatoes arrived at the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River on June 4. The transport truck load of potatoes came from Sunnycrest Farms in Alberta.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

A Hay River agricultural organization has received an impressive donation – enough to fill a transport truck – from a farm in Alberta.

The 50,000 pounds (about 22,500 kg) of seed potatoes arrived at Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) on June 4.

NFTI president Jackie Milne was overjoyed by the donation from Sunnycrest Farms, calling it an amazing act of generosity.

“This is huge,” she said. “This is a gigantic.”

NFTI plans to distribute the seed potatoes to communities all over the NWT.

“So this could be the initiation to really help us restore and reactivate the culture of personal gardening,” said Milne.

She obtained the donation by contacting the organization Potato Growers of Alberta.

“Because I just felt I needed to do every single thing I could possibly do to try to help people in the North have the access to the seeds that I knew they were going to need,” she said.

“I felt maybe they might have some left over,” she added. “I was thinking a pickup truck load, anything.”

Jeff Ekkel, one of the owners of Sunnycrest Farms and a board member with Potato Growers of Alberta, was told about Milne’s request by an official with the organization.

“We’ve been blessed to have the farm we have,” he said. “A lot of this is about helping out other people if we can, and we found a spot to help out other people. I’m happy to see an initiative like that because, from the research I’ve done, food is not as easy and as cheap to come by as it is for us around here.”

Sunnycrest Farms is located west of Lacombe.

Ekkel noted he may have been contacted about making a donation because Sunnycrest Farms recently gave away 44,000 pounds (about 20,000 kg) of potatoes to up to 400 people in the Lacombe area.

NFTI has been promoting food security in the North through its NWT Collaborative Growing Plan to get donations of seeds for gardeners.

Now that it has so many potatoes, NFTI has to get them distributed to gardeners all over the NWT.

“We started right away advertising through Facebook and Messenger and we’ve been sharing the posts on all of the community announcement pages,” said Milne. “So now people are coming forward with vehicles who are driving here.”

She noted people will be coming from such places as Fort Providence, Fort Simpson and Yellowknife to pick up some of the potatoes.

As for getting them to more isolated communities, Milne is hoping to arrange for assistance from airlines, and added she would also welcome help from the GNWT.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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  1. As an aside, The Northern Farm Training Institute is a by-product of the groundwork laid by Ben Greenfield who has since passed on. That groundwork, in part, was due to the financial assistance provided by the Company of young Canadians. “From little acorns, oak trees grow.”