November 25, 2013
By Kevin Weedmark
In its first year, Harvest of Hope has raised $194,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
The project consisted of a group of farmers using largely donated inputs and equipment to grow a crop, with all proceeds going to the foodgrains bank. The farmers volunteered their time to make the project a reality.
A small group of farmers started talking about growing a crop for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank in January. They seeded 140 acres in the spring and have sold the wheat they have grown for $38,800. With the government matching the donation four to one, that translates to $194,000 for the Foodgrains Bank, which distributes the food through its partner agencies in developing countries.
In addition to the money they raised from the crop, the group took in $30,000 in cash donations.
It was a small group of mostly young farmers who organized the Harvest of Hope. The committee includes Nicholas Heide, Joseph Heide, Ron Dietrich, Cory Enns, Jared Hebert, Kyle Penner, Ernest Rushton, Dale Smart, Derek Smart, and Kevin Whelpton.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” says Enns. “It did run fairly smoothly, but we’re planning for it to be bigger and better next year. We had about 140 acres this year, we’ll be able to have twice that next year.”
Enns said he was proud to be part of the Harvest of Hope. “We have so much in this country it feels good to be able to share some of it with less fortunate parts of the world.”
He said there were enough volunteers that the project didn’t become a burden on any one volunteer or family.
“When you have so many people contributing time and equipment, it makes it easier for everyone. Companies were donating seed and fertilizer and equipment, we had a company donate the meal for the harvest day, the fuel was donated. When you have all those companies donating and supporting you, it’s amazing what you can do.”
Enns said the local group was proud to work with the Foodgrains Bank, which provides international aid through several church groups.
“We felt we wanted to support the Canadian Foodgrains Bank,” he says. “It’s something all of us believe in, and we are all involved in agriculture in some capacity.”
Nicholas Heide of the Harvest of Hope committee said everything came together for the project this year after land was secured right next to Highway 8.
“That was just the perfect location, it’s very visible,” he said.
“We learned a lot this year, and now that we’ve done it once, it will be a lot easier next year.”
Organizers say they may add a public event such as a banquet or a harvest barbecue to the 2014 project, to give the public more opportunity to feel part of the project.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is owned by 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies. They pool resources, both human and financial, and work collaboratively together in a Christian Response to Hunger. These members represent 32 denominations.