Jansen helping neighbours locally and globally

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
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Welcoming signage and flags in the community garden at the end of Main Street in Jansen, Saskatchewan. (Photo: submitted)

New growing project in Jansen, Saskatchewan to support efforts to end global hunger

The coronavirus pandemic has created significant challenges for many Canadians. But it has also shined a light on the compassionate nature of people, who have rallied to help loved ones and neighbours, both locally and globally. It’s the kind of togetherness and community spirit that’s been happening in Jansen, Saskatchewan long before COVID-19 existed.

In the middle of the province, just off Yellowhead Highway 16, you’ll find about 100 people with a drive and determination to make things better for everyone around them. The latest initiative is a new growing project in support of Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s work to help end global hunger. The Jansen and District Kinsmen Community Land Project is leading the effort, which will involve planting, tending, and harvesting an 80-acre crop of Pasteur feed wheat. It will be one of more than 30 growing projects in Saskatchewan totaling over 3,500 acres this year.

The community centre in Jansen is one of many local facilities funded by the Jansen and District Community Land Project. (Photo: Submitted)

It’s far from the first initiative for the Kinsmen land project as they have been helping others and improving Jansen and beyond for more than 25 years. The community centre in Jansen, the computerized bowling alley, the outdoor recreation facility, and more recently the family water park in nearby Lanigan—these are just a few of the things that the Kinsmen land project has supported over the years with the money raised from their 310 acres of donated land and popular fundraisers like their annual steak dinners.

“We’ve helped a lot in the local community, and this new growing project gives us an opportunity to support the larger community,” says Bruce Elke, who co-leads the new growing project with Brandon Arnst.

Elke knows the community of Jansen as well as anyone. Not only was he born and raised there, but he’s also a 4th generation farmer on the same land.

“Locally, people have chipped in to help others as long as I can remember,” says Elke. “People have given to the Foodgrains Bank since the days that people were donating actual grain to the elevators, because they know that their donations go where they are supposed to go.”

Volunteers with the Jansen and District Kinsmen Community Land Project after a day of harvesting their crop in 2017. (L-R) Alvin Amendt, Charles Wildeman, Devin L’Heureux, Greg Neugebauer, Trevor German, Myles Wildeman, David Arnst, Brandon Arnst, Nathan Klinger, and Dave Renwick. (Photo: submitted)

A community-changing experience

“Our communities gained further insight into the needs of families facing hunger, when churches in Jansen, Lanigan and Drake sponsored refugee families to come live here recently, through Mennonite Central Committee,” says Jim Ewert, a resident of Drake and a Foodgrains Bank supporter who helped out with a growing project in Drake about 10 years ago.

Hearing about hunger and poverty in refugee camps helped to grow our global consciousness.

“The first family came from Iran around Christmas in 2017, and just six months later, a Burmese family came to live in the community,” says Ewert. “Both families had been displaced because of conflict—the Burmese family had actually been living in a refugee camp in Delhi, India for about 10 years after fleeing from Myanmar. Meeting these two families and hearing about hunger and poverty in refugee camps helped to grow our global consciousness.”

Later that year, Jim and his wife Eileen went on a Foodgrains Bank learning tour to Haiti. Upon their return they shared with churches, schools and other groups in the area about the needs of families facing hunger and the people they met whose lives were transformed thanks to donor-funded projects.

“When our land project team decided to do something to help our neighbours in a more global sense, the Foodgrains Bank came to mind because we know about the need,” says Elke. “We’re able to do our part in Jansen because we have good leadership, people who want to help, and people willing to work. We’re excited to get started.”

-Jason Permanand, Writer

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