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Nanton, Alta. grain elevators sitting in third spot in Next Great Save contest

Nanton, Alta. grain elevators sitting in third spot in Next Great Save contest

The contest provides financial support for community landmarks

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The grain elevators at the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre (CGED) in Nanton, Alta. are currently one of the top three vote getters in the Next Great Save contest.

Voting in the contest, which the National Trust for Canada administers, started on April 18. In total, the contest awards $65,000 to communities to help with local landmark maintenance and preservation.

The winner receives $50,000, second place gets $10,000 and the third-place prize is $5,000.

As of April 25, the grain elevators are in third place with 9,162 votes.

“We were the underdogs for a while and (on April 24) we moved up to third place and we’re really excited about that,” Leo Wieser, president of the CGED, told “But we can’t sit back now. We’re in this for the win, we need all the help we can get, and we encourage anyone to vote for us once a day, wherever they are in the world.”

Ahead of the grain elevators is Our Lady of Mercy Heritage Church in Aguathuna, Nfld., with 10,212 votes. Currently sitting in first place is the LaSalle Theatre in Kirkland Lake, Ont., with 10,644 votes.

Another Alberta landmark, the Roxy Theatre in Coleman, currently sits in fourth place with 8,300 votes.

In total, 12 sites are finalists in the contest.

Each is deserving of the top prize, Wieser says, but the grain elevators especially.

“We lose up to 80 wooden grain elevators in Canada each year,” he said. “In 1933, Alberta had more than 1,700 grain elevators. Today there’s about 80. And of those 80, maybe 10 have a historical society working to save them while the others are deteriorating very rapidly.”

Any winnings would be used to restore the look of the elevators and conduct other activities.

“We need to stabilize the structure and do work on the outside of the Alberta Wheat Pool elevator, it’s in desperate need of structural engineering,” Wieser says. “They really need paint too, and the paint acts as protective layer for the elevators.”

Anyone can vote for their favourite landmark until May 6, with the winners being announced on May 7.

Voting is a two-step process, and voters will be asked to verify their email addresses to ensure the votes count.

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The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

Video: The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

The fledgling U.S. hemp industry is decades behind countries like Canada, France and China, but according to impact investor and this week’s podcast guest, Pierre Berard, it could flourish into a $2.2 billion industry by 2030 and create thousands of jobs.

To reach its potential, what the hemp industry needs most right now, Berard said, is capital investment.

Last month, Berard published a report titled “Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity — A Pioneering Venture for Investors and Corporations Driven by Environmental, Social and Financial Concerns” in which he lays out the case for investment.

It’s as if Berard, with this report, is waving a giant flag, trying to attract the eyes of investors, saying, “Look over here. Look at all this opportunity.”

Berard likens the burgeoning American hemp industry to a developing country.

“There is no capital. People don’t want to finance. This is too risky. And I was like, OK, this sounds like something for me,” he said.

As an impact investor who manages funds specializing in agro-processing companies, Berard now has his sights set on the U.S. hemp industry, which he believes has great economic value as well as social and environmental benefits.

He spent many years developing investment in the agriculture infrastructure of developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and said the hemp industry feels similar.

“It is very nascent and it is a very fragmented sector. You have pioneers and trailblazers inventing or reinventing the field after 80 years of prohibition,” he said. “So I feel very familiar with this context.”

On this week’s hemp podcast, Berard talks about the report and the opportunities available to investors in the feed, fiber and food sectors of the hemp industry.

Building an industry around an agricultural commodity takes time, he said. According to the report, “The soybean industry took about 50 years to become firmly established, from the first USDA imports in 1898 to the U.S. being the top worldwide producer in the 1950s.”

Berard has a plan to accelerate the growth of the hemp industry and sees a four-pillar approach to attract investment.

First, he said, the foundation of the industry is the relationship between farmers and processors at the local level.

Second, he said the industry needs what he calls a “federating body” that will represent it, foster markets and innovations, and reduce risk for its members and investors.

The third pillar is “collaboration with corporations that aim to secure or diversify their supply chains with sustainable products and enhance their ESG credentials. This will be key to funding the industry and creating markets,” he said.

The fourth pillar is investment. Lots of it. Over $1.6 billion over seven years. This money will come from government, corporations, individual investors, and philanthropic donors.

The 75-page report goes into detail about the hemp industry, its environmental and social impact, and the opportunities available to investors.

Read the report here: Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity

Also on this episode, we check in with hemp and bison farmer Herb Grove from Brush Mountain Bison in Centre County, PA, where he grew 50 acres of hemp grain. We’ll hear about harvest and dry down and crushing the seed for oil and cake.