Anthea Archer and Ruth Fenner of Agricultural Awareness with Cowichan Green Community staff and their new seed cleaner. (submitted)

Cowichan Coffee Time: raising donations, getting donations and longtime service

Catch up with Cowichan

• North Cowichan council recognized Wayne Coombs earlier this month for his long-time volunteer service.

He has been on the Forestry Advisory Committee for 25 years.

• Until Giving Tuesday (Nov. 28) it is possible to make a dollar do the work of two.

“Thanks to generous supporters and local businesses we will be able to match early donations to help bright, very poor youth attend secondary school in Kenya, Africa, where high school is not free,” said Cowichan Valley KEEF volunteer Shelagh Armour-Godbolt.

KEEF (Kenya Education Endowment Fund, www.kenyaeducation.org) is a B.C.-based, all-volunteer, registered educational charity supporting students in western Kenya.

“Every donation, large or small truly helps. For example, in many schools in Kenya four students must share a dictionary. It costs only about $21 Canadian to supply KEEF students with their own copies. Many students need a scientific calculator for class. Their families — often small farmers earning a cash income equivalent to C$2-$3 a day — cannot provide this. At a cost of about C$15 you can do so through KEEF,” Armour-Godbolt said.

Giving Tuesday is a fairly new national event organized across Canada by Canada Helps. The idea of a day of giving (funds or volunteer time) began as a reaction to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

KEEF provides scholarships, based on academic ability and financial need, to high school and post-secondary students from the Kakamega region of western Kenya. As well as supporting their studies, KEEF provides secondary students with an annual, multi-topic Life Skills workshop covering issues such as financial literacy, health, career planning, etc.

Secondary school scholarships are $600 a year, which can be paid in one payment or over the year at $50 a month.

“We have some sponsors who join with friends or family to share the cost of a scholarship. Donors receive a photo and letter from the student and are updated on the progress of the student they support. We have seen how enthusiastic Kenyan scholarship recipients are about attending school and studying. We also see that, after graduation and employment, they contribute to the betterment of their families and communities. Also, the recently formed KEEF alumni group fundraises in Kenya to support new KEEF students.”

Send a cheque, payable to KEEF, before Nov. 28 to KEEF, C/O Ms. M. Klesner, #904 – 2135 Argyle Ave. West Vancouver, B.C. V7V 1A5 or by Interac to keefcan2010@gmail.com indicating the purpose is Giving Tuesday. For more information about KEEF’s work, contact shelaghag@shaw.ca or call 604-415-9397.

• Cowichan Valley Group Agricultural Awareness, a long-time supporter of agriculture in the Cowichan Valley, has donated $2,500 to the Cowichan Green Community for the purchase of a seed cleaner.

The funds distributed into the community by Agricultural Awareness since the early 1990s originated from several local agricultural groups and have been donated to many organizations promoting agriculture in the Cowichan Valley.

This year a bursary was also awarded to a Frances Kelsey student with several years’ farm experience who is now attending Camosun College with plans to play a role in improving farming equipment. Bursaries will be available for the next three years to Valley students pursuing post-secondary education with career goals in agriculture.

The seed cleaner purchased with this donation will find a home at CGC’s Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm. The farm, located on 3.5 acres of land leased through the Municipality of North Cowichan, is the first of its kind as a seed training farm in Canada. In addition to training aspiring seed farmers in seed production, the site will host seed training and education for everyone from the backyard gardener to long time farmer.

“It’s such a great seed cleaner,” said Agricultural Awareness’s Anthea Archer, “a perfect size with a good assortment of screens. We are very pleased that this project has a worthwhile conclusion with benefit to the agricultural community.”

Producing good quality seed requires the right equipment, and this 100-plus-year-old machine spruced up with an electric motor and six brand new sizing screens will allow the cleaning of seed sizes ranging from onions, to beans, to squash. Seed from the Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm is already available at CGC’s Garden Pantry Store, both for sale and for loan through the Seed Library.

To see the new seed cleaner in action, join CGC on Nov. 28 at the Station (360 Duncan St.), from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a seed cleaning demonstration and work party.

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