Ground broken for expanded grain facilities in Alvinston

Groundbreaking for Wanstead Grain Expansion in Alvinston. From left to right: Norm Minielly (Treasurer), Dave Minielly (Director), Gord Book (Branch Manager), Jamie Duncan (Director), Martin Gerrits (President), Mayor Dave Ferguson (Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston), Rick Patterson (Director), Peter Kelly (General Manager), Garry Straatman (Treasurer), Nathan Ikert (Director), Absent Tim Packet (Director). Mar. 29, 2021 (Submitted photo)

New grain facilities in Alvinston will increase drying and storage capacity for members of the Wanstead Farmers Co-operative.

There was a groundbreaking Monday for an expansion that includes two 150,000-bushel dry bins and two 45,000-bushel wet bins.

General Manager Peter Kelly said a new grain dryer is also planned, which will make the facility more advanced.

“It’s going to have a higher speed, more efficient dryer, it will allow quicker turn around times,” said Kelly. “We’ve introduced a lot of IT [Information Technology] automation, so that the grower, when they leave the scale, can have their scale ticket on their iPhone or their android phone in real time and not have to wait to find out the information or deal with paper.”

The facilities, expected to be up and running for corn harvest this year, will position Wanstead for future growth.

“With the increasing volumes were enjoying in the Lambton/Middlesex Counties, there’s a real need for this. We’ve made a commitment to increase our grain volumes, and have been doing so and tend to continue to do so, and the facility has been designed for future expansion. So, once we fill what we built, we simply add on more silos and increase our capacity.”

Kelly said the 97-year-old co-operative has about 500 member owners, employs 27 permanent staff, and has locations in Wanstead, Alvinston and Inwood.

“It started with three people back in 1924 and the reason for its beginning was to get coal to heat homes. So, we actually still have a facility on site where there is a rail spur where they brought in coal.”

The cost of the expanded facilities was not disclosed.

-with files from Dave Dentinger