“Helping people is just something we are supposed to do as those who are more fortunate,” says Raymore farmer Gary Orthner, who is volunteering to help farm land donated by Viterra. Once harvested, proceeds from the sale of the crop will be used to help end hunger through Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (Photo: Submitted)
Gary Orthner is planning on retiring next year, but not before he makes a lasting mark on his community—and on people who are hungry overseas.
The Raymore, Saskatchewan grain farmer is teaming up with a group of local farmers to donate their time and resources to farm 60 acres of land around Viterra’s terminal in Raymore.
The project is part of a larger partnership in five other communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan where Viterra has allowed local farmers to grow a crop on land surrounding its terminals, with proceeds from the sale of the crop being used to end world hunger through Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
“It’s a great project to be involved in,” says Orthner. “Part of the highlight is helping to feed those who are underfed, and the other part is bringing people in the community together to do so.”
Orthner had heard of other farmers donating their land, time and resources to raise money for the work of ending world hunger and was interested in the idea, but never had land available to do so.
That’s when he heard about the opportunity to farm the Viterra land from the pastor of Raymore Baptist Church, who called a meeting with farmers from local churches to see if there was any interest in helping farm the land.
For Orthner, it was a no-brainer.
“When something like that falls in your lap you need to take it and run with it,” says Orthner.
The group plans to plant feed barley on the 60 available acres. While the farmers will take care of seeding and spraying this season, Orthner has plans to invite others in the community to get involved as well.
“My hope is that this summer we will get some younger people involved in the farming,” he says. “But also people in the wider community as well – you don’t have to be a farmer to support the project.”
Orthner notes that one of the ways he hopes to engage others in the community is by inviting donations from individuals and local businesses to help cover the cost of inputs—a common practice for many Fodograins Bank growing projects.
“What has started as a generous offer from Viterra is now growing into a community-wide effort in support of people who are hungry overseas,” says Rick Block, regional representative for the Foodgrains Bank in Saskatchewan.
“It’s incredible what can be accomplished with strategic partnerships, local community members and a common goal of helping end world hunger,” says Block.
And while Orthner may be hanging up his farming hat after 40 years, he’s committed to watching his efforts grow.
“My gig is working and trying to build momentum,” he says. “If I can get a group that is excited for the project then they’ll be able to take it and go.”
Ultimately, Orthner’s commitment to see the project grow comes down to the hungry people who will benefit overseas.
“Helping people is just something we are supposed to do as those who are more fortunate,” he says.
“Whether it’s locally or globally, we are thinking of people who have it worse and of ways we can help.”
–Shaylyn McMahon, Communications assistant