- Operation greatly scaled-down
- Will rely on volunteers
- Plan to turn over operation to 3 First Nations
The shelterbelt centre in Indian Head, Sask., which was a victim of federal budget cuts last year, is getting back into the tree business.
A non-profit group called Help International said it has received a licence to operate the centre's tree farm and will start selling trees to Prairie farmers through its website immediately.
The group said it would begin operations at the centre, formerly operated by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) and the federal agriculture department, on Thursday.
Scaled-down tree farm
However, it will be a much-scaled down version of the centre that was in operation before the cuts.
The centre has hired a foreman and at least one other employee but will rely heavily on volunteers, Help International CEO Rodney Sidloski said.
"To make this happen without government funding, it takes a lot of sacrifice, a lot of volunteerism, but we will be hiring and are already hiring local," he said.
"But even those people are making big sacrifices. The charitable pay scale compared to the government, it might be 50 per cent [less] compared to that."
Previously, the centre employed more than 40.
According to Sidloski, there's a tentative plan in the works to turn the operation over to three First Nations after the current season.
Seedlings for sale
Landowners can buy tree seedlings for $1.50 each for orders of 300 or more, the group said.
Shelterbelts are rows of trees used to reduce wind and fight soil erosion. They can also protect livestock and trap snow for dugouts on farms.
Until the federal cuts, the Indian Head operation had been producing trees for farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta for more than 100 years.
The group said people from Indian Head would be hired for their expertise at the previous tree farm.