By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The University of Lethbridge’s (ULeth) Dhillon School of Business recently honoured the Perry family and the Perry Family Farm at the business school’s annual Business Scholarship Dinner.
The dinner recognizes members of the southern Alberta community for their exceptional achievements, and honours members who have shown strong leadership and commitment to their communities.
This year, the event honoured Gerry and Birthe Perry and their children Harold, Chris, and Karen, and their families.
In addition to recognizing the Perry family and the Perry Family farm for their continued contributions to agriculture, the event also established a scholarship for business students in the recipient’s honour.
With nearly 115 years of farming under their belts, the Perry family’s fourth-generation farming operation in Chin supplies potatoes to some of Canada’s most recognizable consumer brands including McCain Foods, Frito-Lay, and Bonduelle.
The oft-cliche phrase, of having “deep roots” in a community, aptly applies to the Perry’s. The over 5,200 acre potato farm has been farmed by the Perry family since 1909, the farm has since become a major supplier to various national and international brands, and has led to numerous awards for their top-tier produce.
In addition to receiving the McCain’s Top Potato Grower and Frito-Lay’s Canadian Supplier of the Year, the Perry family is also focused on sustainable farm practices, and received the McCain Foods’ Canada National Environmental Award in 2011.
Over the past decade, the Perry’s have further ramped up their climate-conscious operations, and in 2013, design and construction began on the GrowTEC Biogas Plant.
This plant converts high volumes organic waste, such as manure, into biogas, and high nutrient and heat-rich soil amendments.
To date, the biogas produced at the plant is converted into 100 per cent renewable energy, and is sold back to the grid, as the plant produces a surplus of close to three times more electricity than the entire Perry Farm operation consumes.
According to GrowTEC plant data, the facility processes approximately 15,000 tonnes of organic waste, and produces around 15,000 tonnes of organic fertilizer each year. Equivalent to the diversion of over 10,000 mega tonnes (MT) of manure from direct land spreading, and upwards of 5,000 MT of other kinds of organic waste from landfill or land application on an annual basis. The plant also generates over 4,000 mega watt hours (MWhr) of renewable energy, and over 4,000 tonnes in CO2 credits annually.
Their leadership in the world of sustainable farm operations had led to influence on a global scale. In recent years, the family has spoken at the Paris Accord and Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue about their sustainable agricultural practices carried out right in Lethbridge County.
The event raised $65,000 for the scholarship fund, with an additional $65,000 in matching funds contributed by the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors. Moving forward, the endowed $130,000 will be made available to future students of the Dhillon School of Business, providing $5,000 each year in scholarships in the Perry family’s name.
A recent media release issued by the University of Lethbridge quotes Harold Perry, President of Perry Quest Ltd., as follows: “We were very grateful for all the individual and full table sponsors who came to celebrate agriculture in southern Alberta, graciously helping us hit our target number to sponsor $5,000 in scholarships each year in perpetuity.”
In the recent release, Dr. Kerry Godfrey, Dhillon School of Business Dean and Vice-Provost (Calgary) said, “The Perry family’s commitment to these practices in agriculture has created a business where success is not only measured by today’s performance, but also by how sustainable the business is for future generations.”
Chris Perry, who alongside his brother Harold, manages the Perry Family Farm, said in the Uleth release, “Interdisciplinary thought across ULethbridge leadership, students, business curriculum, regenerative agriculture and integrated bioenergy industry must play a part,” adding the scholarship represents, “what so many of us in the agriculture industry in southern Alberta stand for,” upholding both environmental stewardship and innovative technology in the agricultural sector.
Donations to the Perry Family Scholarship Fund can be made by visiting https://encompass.ulethbridge.ca/s/1938/bp2161/interior.aspx?sid=1938&pgid=880&gid=2&cid=1917&ecid=1917&post_id=0, or to learn more about the Perry Family Farm, visit, https://perryfarm.ca/about.