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Heritage Acres Musuem plants victory garden to support Pincher Creek food bank

Southern Alberta museum plants victory garden to support local food bank
WATCH ABOVE: The Heritage Acres Farm Museum just outside Pincher Creek, Alta., has organized a new initiative to donate 100 per cent of harvested potatoes and carrots to the town's food bank. Eloise Therien has the details.

In an effort to support the surrounding community during the COVID-19 pandemic, one museum in southern Alberta has decided to start its first-ever victory garden.

Heritage Acres Farm Museum is located approximately 15 kilometres northeast of Pincher Creek.

It has been operating as an open-air museum since 1988 and used the extra time being closed to plan a community support project.

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“Victory gardening” became a commonplace activity during the First and Second World Wars to aid with food supply for troops overseas and community members.

“We’ve got a new food bank and we just wanted to give back,” said the museum’s executive director Jim Peace on Sunday.

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While canned food is typically the main item that comes to people’s minds when donating food, Peace said they have chosen to plant potatoes and carrots for two reasons.

“We do have a heated Quonset — so our ability to store,” he said. “It fits into what we do as an exhibit… so potatoes and carrots were easy and low-maintenance.”

The museum hosted a sod-turning ceremony on Sunday to celebrate the start of the tradition, welcoming volunteers who used old-fashioned tools provided by the museum to plant vegetables.

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The project is dear to Anna Welsch’s heart because the community rallied around her after her house burned down in March.

“Within minutes and hours of it happening, I was just inundated with community support,” she said.

“If we can just take a little bit of stress off someone’s plate by making sure that they [have] a fridge full of food, it can just really help and then they can worry about what matters.”

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Welsch said they expect to have 500 to 600 potatoes and 1,000 to 2,000 carrots — 100 per cent of which will be donated for food hampers for local families — by fall.

Heritage Acres is also encouraging those who are planting at home to consider planting an extra row of potatoes or carrots.

It is still looking for volunteers to help with weeding and hilling on a weekly basis.

As well, the museum itself will be opening for the season starting June 1, with an added bonus.

“We’re not going to charge admission all summer,” said Peace.

Peace said a generous sponsor is making it possible for the museum to provide free entry for the season, giving families in the area a place to escape and learn.