© Eloise Therien / Global News
Volunteers get their hands dirty to harvest potatoes and carrots at the Heritage Acres Farm Museum near Pincher Creek, Alta. on Saturday.
Around four months ago, staff and volunteers at Pincher Creek’s Heritage Acres Farm Museum held a sod-turning ceremony at its first-ever victory garden project. Fast-forward to Saturday, and the benefit of a hard summer’s work were reaped as nearly 1,100 pounds of potatoes and 180 pounds of carrots were harvested.
“Victory gardening” refers to the practice of gardening to support the community, originating during the First and Second World Wars to aid with food supply for troops overseas.
According to board vice president Anna Welsch, the idea for the garden came about while the museum was closed due to COVID-19.
“Being that we’re a farm museum and an agricultural community… this was our opportunity to hopefully take away some food insecurities from our local community,” Welsch explained.
Read more: Lethbridge garden centres experience boom in summer sales amid COVID-19
In sticking with their roots, antique equipment was used in the harvesting process, along with the hands of a more than a dozen volunteers.
“The interesting thing is our potato [harvester],” executive director Jim Peace said. “That tractor is a 1945 McCormick, and the potato digger was built in England at the turn of the century, so it’s been part of the collection here at Heritage Acres for years. It would have been originally pulled by a horse.”
According to David Green, coordinator for the Family Community Support Services for Pincher Creek, the food bank didn’t have the resources to take fresh produce until recently. Now, the new Pincher Creek Community Food Centre has the ability to store more varieties of food.
Read more: Heritage Acres Musuem plants victory garden to support Pincher Creek food bank
“We’re making the transition to the new organization in a fiscally sound manner, they’re in good shape financially” he said.
Green adds although there hasn’t been a significant spike in need for the food bank services, they are consistently serving the community. He says a lot of people, not only Heritage Acres, have stepped up to increase donations through the pandemic.
“We’re very thankful to the community, both individuals and corporations.”
With such an increase, Peace says the choice of vegetable will allow them to donate in stages to suit the food bank’s needs.
“We picked potatoes and carrots because they store well,” Peace explained. “We have a heated Quonset, so we can actually bag them and provide them to the food bank [as we go].”
On top of the the potato and carrot donation, the museum says they have received around 1,500 pounds of hamburger through cattle donations from the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange, Dewald Livestock, Larson Custom Feeders, and Big Sky Feeder Association in conjunction with the Chinook Breeder Co-Op.
Pincher Creek is located approximately 100 kilometres west of Lethbridge.