After a record year of fundraising for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB), a woman from the Landmark area has decided to continue with her annual canning drive to help end global hunger.

Linden resident Deb Loewen says the annual canning drive started “accidentally” when their apple trees and grapevines grew way more fruit than her family could possibly eat.

“Then, I received a plum donation,” she adds. “So, our first year was only jams with 54 jars sold for $1,100.”

There is a grant agreement with the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). This allowed the donation from the Loewen family to grow to $5,500.

Last year, Loewen’s canning drive became the largest it has ever been as they sold 275 jars of jelly, pickled beets, peppers, relish, and salsa. They raised $2,100 and with the 4-1 matching grant, it came to $10,500.

She notes there is a deep-seated passion for the Loewen family to support the Foodgrains Bank and it started with her father-in-law, the late C. Wilbert Loewen, one of the founding members. She is proud to note that he received the Order of Manitoba in 2010 in recognition of his work.

Today, her son Matt Plett heads up the Landmark chapter of the CFGB. Her husband Rick does all the gardening for the annual canning drive. Her son Daniel helps with all the vegetable preparations for the canning while her son Joshua is supported by his farming job to drive one of the combines for the harvest on a field designated for the CFGB.

The canned goods are purchased by many family members and people in the community. Loewen takes to social media whenever she finds herself with a few jars left, and it doesn’t take long for them to be sold.

While some people might find the canning process to be a bit daunting, Loewen says it’s something she really enjoys.

"We grew up canning,” Loewen says. “My family, we grew up quite poor, so my mom did a lot of canning. It was just a nice way of saving on grocery money. So, I’ve always been a canner. I always joke with people that it’s cheaper than therapy.”

Despite the growing success of her annual canning drive, Loewen admits she had considered putting it on hold for this year after some significant losses in her family. In the past year, she was struck with grief from the death of her mom and two of her brothers. That proved to be a heavy load and Loewen doubted she could pull off the fundraising this year.

Then, regular customers started submitting requests for canned products this spring and that helped motivate Loewen to get the project started. The garden was planted, and orders were organized. This is the earliest she has started canning in the season. Loewen says it happened because a special request came in for rhubarb sauce. While this was something new for Loewen to create, she was up for the challenge and is happy to report a successful outcome.

Usually, Loewen sticks to the same list of offerings after finding the favorites from her supporters. But she was willing to try something new this spring and is happy to see the donations are starting to come in.

With the dry conditions this summer, many people are concerned about crops this year and Loewen feels it’s more important than ever to do some fundraising for CFGB.

“I think crops everywhere are suffering this year which means it’s going to be that much more critical that people donate. As much as we think we have it tough here, the countries where all of this is destined for are doing so much worse.”

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger.