Saanich Fruit Growers Assn. donates $100,000

Donation to School District 63 will help create scholarships for students at Claremont, Parkland and Stelly’s.

  • Dec. 11, 2014 4:00 p.m.

A $100,000 donation from the Saanich Fruit Growers Association will mean that each year three graduating students will receive $1,000 scholarships to help them with their further education. One scholarship will be awarded to a student at Claremont, Parkland and Stelly’s high schools.

The donation was made to the Saanich School District on November 29 and will allow the District to establish the scholarship fund, making the annual scholarships possible. It is only the latest in a series of charitable donations made by the Fruit Growers Association.

“We are very grateful for this generous donation. It’s an investment in our students’ continuing education and in their future,” said Mark Fraser, the District Superintendant of School District 63.

Fraser met with Harold McCarthy, one of the Directors of the Saanich Fruit Growers on November 20 and set out some broad parameters for the use of the money.

“Essentially, it has to be used for furthering the recipient’s education either at a University or for trade training,” said Shannon Davies, District executive assistant.

It’s not the first charitable donation that has been made by the Fruit Growers.

“Since mid-October, we’ve awarded donations to a variety of deserving groups within the community,” said McCarthy, adding donations have been made to such diverse groups as the Saanich Peninsula Hospitall Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club, Mount Newton Centre, the provincial 4H Society and the SHOAL Centre.

While McCarthy doesn’t rule out further donations, he said that no decisions have been made as yet for where those donations might go.

The history of the funding source is a fascinating bit of the Peninsula’s history. Nearly 100 years ago, the Saanich Fruit Growers Association was formed and created a shipping and processing plant on Keating Cross Road. In the late 1970s the property was leased to local businesses with a focus on agricultural products and processes. The land was recently sold and Association members voted to use the proceeds to support a variety of local causes.

“With development in the area a lot of the farms were lost,” said McCarthy. “As well, a lot of the farmers were ‘aging out’ and their families’ weren’t interested in continuing with the berry industry. There was also a change in the industry with direct marketing and u-pick operations.” In the end, the need for the property that had been used as a central shipping location was no longer necessary.

“We’re happy to be able to give back to the community,” said McCarthy. “This is our home, after all.”

— Tim Collins/News staff

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