From Danforth Avenue to Stouffville: Building bridges to help the hungry

Friday, May 3, 2019


Farmers, church members and supporters gather at the Grow Hope Danforth soybean field before harvest time. (Photo: Guy Smagghe)

Danforth Avenue in downtown Toronto isn’t the first place most supporters of the Foodgrains Bank associate with growing a crop of soybeans.

However, a community of supporters attending churches along a stretch of Danforth Avenue is excited to be helping hungry people around the world while learning about agriculture and building new connections through Grow Hope Danforth.

“We’ve had a food bank here at the church that people have been intimately connected to for years,” says Michiko Bown-Kai, intern minister at Eastminster United Church. “This (Grow Hope Danforth) is a good way for us to connect local and global issues.”

Through the project, local churches in the Danforth area raise funds to purchase inputs like seeds and fertilizer. Reesor Seed and Grain farm supply in Stouffville, north of Toronto, contributes the 10 acres of land used for the project, and does all the seeding, spraying, harvesting, transportation and grain handling.

“It’s a way for us to share what we’ve been blessed with,” says Jeff Steiner, who manages sales for Reesor’s. “Our neighbours aren’t just down the street, they’re also around the globe.”

Several Grow Hope Danforth supporters visited Reesor Seed and Grain before harvest to meet the farmers, and see “their” acres.

Bown-Kai was among them.

“I enjoyed that we met people who provided insight into the land and what growing a crop is about,” they say. “(For example) they were able to explain how to determine the health of a soy crop based on the number of soybeans in a pod.”

“A lot of people I know get their food by going to the grocery store and picking it up,” they add. “Even though there is a lot of talk in cities about how food should be grown, we don’t always know what the reality is for farmers. It’s good to put a human face to that conversation.”

There are a number of Grow Hope projects across Canada that connect urban people to farmers in order to grow a crop that will be used to help hungry people around the world. For more information, visit https://foodgrainsbank.ca/grow-hope-cfgb/.

—Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator