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Organic potatoes create jobs


October 20, 2009
By The Canadian Press

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potatoesOctober
20, 2009, Prince Albert, Sask – An organic potato-farming program has helped
residents of a Saskatchewan First Nation get off welfare.



October
20, 2009, Prince Albert, Sask – An organic potato-farming program has helped
residents of a Saskatchewan First Nation get off welfare.

Harvey
Knight, president of the Muskoday Organic Growers Co-operative Ltd., says the
lives of 12 residents have improved due to the farm.

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This
summer, the residents of the Muskoday First Nation about 20 kilometres
southeast of Prince Albert were hired and trained to work on seven hectares of
potato crop.

It
is a partnership between co-operative and the Muskoday and Peter Ballantyne
First Nations
, and supported by Heifer International.

They
were trained under Saskatchewan’s green certificate program delivered through
Northlands College and learned organic practices of planting, seeding and pest
control, as well as how to safely use and take care of farm machinery.

With
the training, the 12 workers can go on to take classes at Saskatchewan
Institute of Applied Science and Technology
and work in farming in the future.

The
group is now harvesting potatoes, but no one knows if the crop will survive due
to early cold snap.

Most
of the other vegetables were harvested from smaller gardens before the snow,
but only about a quarter of the potatoes were pulled from the ground.

Even
though much of the crop is still underground, there is still enough for the
co-operative to meet the goal of feeding the community.

“We
were able to give out to our community, to most of our elders and to people who
are in need and to our school lunch program and other programs like that,” said
Knight.

The
overall goal was to become self-sufficient, and Knight says co-operative will
try to do it again next year.

“Today
we are happy to see that they are more prosperous than they were before, their
quality of life has improved, their health has improved,” Knight said about the
trained farm workers.

“Working
outside everyday can only do good things for the body.”


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