Over 100 growing projects in Ontario harvested a crop to raise money for ending global hunger in 2018. (Photo: Submitted)
2,500 acres harvested in total, will make a difference for people affected by hunger
More than 2,500 acres of crops harvested in Ontario this year will help provide food for people in need in developing countries.
From wheat, soybeans and corn to squash and potatoes, 108 Ontario growing projects came together to plant, tend and harvest a crop to support the work of ending hunger through Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
It was the first year for the Combining for Christ growing project in Owen Sound, supported by the First Christian Reformed Church congregation. The group planted 15 acres of soybeans on land donated by Wilma and Thomas Bergstra.
“It was looking pretty tough for a while—there was no rain for eight weeks. I was a nervous wreck,” says Thomas. “It ended up turning out fairly well, though,” he says.
For project volunteer Joel Neerhoff, the growing season not going as smoothly as hoped, brought its own opportunities.
“It brought everyone together and showed the church the need to pray for things like rain,” he says.
‘Million dollar rain’ comes just in time
Further east, the Admaston and area growing project near Douglas also experienced a stretch of dry weather.
“It was very dry during the end of June and July,” says project chair Ray Pender. “It’s typically a dry area, but this was a drought.”
Pender and other project members worried about the success of their corn crop. That changed toward the end of July.
“We got a real good rain, probably about five inches that helped save the soybeans and the corn in this area,” says Pender. “That was a million dollar rain.”
Members of the Admaston and area growing project have been growing a crop together for more than 20 years. Local farmers and input suppliers pitch in to donate seed, fertilizer, machines and their time.
Churches in the area often hold fundraisers to help cover existing operating costs like land rental.
Pender has been involved since its beginning.
“We’ve been very fortunate in our farming career, and you know, we feel like we can afford to give our time,” he says. “We feel it’s a worthwhile deed in the world.”
As a farmer himself, Pender also appreciates the work being done to support small-scale farmers overseas.
“The fact that the Foodgrains Bank is teaching people how to farm on their own is important, too,” he says. “Hopefully they can become more self-sustaining, and they won’t need as much support.”
Sharing God’s blessing with people overseas
In Chatham-Kent, members of the Evangel community growing project are no strangers to trying weather.
“We’re pretty close to Detroit, so we’re really south and that’s why we’re diversified in our weather,” explains project chair John Lugtigheid. “Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s bad.”
This year, it was dryer than average, but Lugtigheid says they were pleasantly surprised with their 40 acres of seed corn.
They were also grateful for the support of other farmers, churches and local businesses.
“The community has been very good to us,” says Lugtigheid. “We had six tonnes of fertilizer donated this spring by local enterprises, we had money donated to cover the fuel costs, and our church has had a few offerings to raise money for the project.”
For Lugtigheid, the project is a way to share his abundance with people experiencing hunger overseas.
“I am just awestruck at how good God has been to us,” he says. “We’re so blessed here, and we want to share that blessing.”
Ontario generosity to be felt around the world
With over 100 growing projects spanning an 827 kilometre distance, Ontario growing projects can vary in their success.
“I always hear it’s too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot,” says Ontario regional representative Dave Epp. “Some Ontario projects get started in April, while others continue well into December.”
What doesn’t change, says Epp, is the impact Ontario efforts have on the lives of hungry people overseas.
“Year after year, I’m deeply moved by the commitment to get a crop off the ground and raise money for ending world hunger,” he says. “These Ontario efforts will help provide food to many families in need.”
– Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Officer, with files from Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator