Ontario youth help end global hunger through local 4-H project

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Through their local 4-H club in West Carleton, Ontario, a group of youth raised over $7,000 to help end global hunger by planting, tending and harvesting soybeans, and then donating the proceeds to the Foodgrains Bank. (Photo: Submitted)

“Have a plan and get lots of help.”

That’s the advice 21-year-old Victoria Eastman has for anyone interested in starting a growing project.

Eastman is a senior member of the West Carleton 4-H Foodgrains Club near Ottawa, Ontario, which started its own growing project in support of Canadian Foodgrains Bank last year.

“It was a new idea for us,” says Eastman, who grew up on a dairy farm and has worked as an agronomy assistant for the past two summers.

“Usually our goal is to encourage youth to become leaders in their communities,” she explains. “Connecting our project with Canadian Foodgrains Bank made it all the better because members learned how to manage a crop and send it to market while also supporting countries with food insecurity.”

There were 13 club members in total, ranging from 9 to 21-years-old. The Carp Agricultural Society donated 10 acres of land for the project where club members grew soybeans.

Inputs like seed and fertilizer were donated by local companies. Local farmers volunteered to help with planting and harvesting, while a local agronomist helped teach the club members the ins and outs of growing soybeans.

“I think that’s why our club was successful, we had so many volunteers, and agronomists and farmers around,” says Eastman. “It was a big group effort.”

While club members received support from their leaders and local community members, it was their job to monitor the crop and ensure the project ran smoothly.

“Each meeting we would go out to the field and see how our crop was doing. It was really interesting to see it grow,” she says. “We’d check if there were any pests on it, check if the weeds had died from the herbicide – things like that.”

Altogether, the club raised over $7,000 for the work of responding to hunger around the world.

“Many Foodgrains Bank supporters know how much work goes into organizing a successful growing project,” says Dave Epp, regional coordinator for the Foodgrains Bank in Ontario and Quebec.

“Seeing a group of youth take initiative to help plan one is a really encouraging thing to see,” he says.

And like many other growing projects across Canada, the West Carleton Community 4-H Foodgrains Club’s heart for helping those who are hungry overseas comes down to the town’s deep ties with agriculture and farming.

“Agriculture and hunger are so tied together,” says Eastman.

“I think that definitely makes it better to see how knowledge of agriculture can be put toward something like raising money for countries with food insecurity – it’s a really great feeling.”

– Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Assistant