top of page
  • Bluewater Growing Project

Lambton County farmers help fight world hunger

As reported in the Sarnia Observer, December 1, 2017 by Carl Hnatyshyn

A group of Lambton County farmers donated their time, materials and labour this week to help raise money for a Canadian organization that plays a leading role in fighting world hunger.

Members of the Bluewater Growing Project, an organization of philanthropic farmers from across Lambton, helped harvest corn from Harry Joosee’s 36-acre Brigden Road field. Profits from the corn’s sale will go to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

For 30 years, farmers with the Bluewater Growing Project have been planting, growing, harvesting and selling crops in support of the Winnipeg-based agency, whose goal is to end world hunger through education programs, the development of sustainable agricultural practices in developing nations and, in the case of war or famine, direct food assistance to those in need.

The Bluewater Growing Group is among 250 growing projects across Canada that fundraise for the Foodgrains Bank, with the federal government matching the Winnipeg organization’s efforts by a 4:1 ratio, to a $25-million maximum. In 2016-17 alone, the Foodgrains Bank assisted over 900,000 people in 35 countries.

In a typical year, said Bluewater Growing Project secretary Robert Halliday, the group raises $50,000 for the cause, with farmers donating labour, equipment and land, local companies donating fertilizer and seed and local Christian Reformed and United Churches also contributing to cover expenses such as rent or crop inputs. This year’s field work and inputs were provided by Parkland Farms, while the combine harvesting was done by Plympton-Wyoming’s Bill VanderLinde and Jack Koetsier.

It’s truly a community effort, Halliday said.

“It’s been quite rewarding working with this group,” he said. “This is all about promoting food security. We don’t just go over to other countries and dump free grain into the market. The Foodgrains Bank actually goes into countries and provides tangible help like food aid, seeds, training and infrastructure.”

Halliday said there has been no problem finding farmers willing to donate their time.

“We all gladly do it, we all gladly come out to help,” said Plympton-Wyoming’s Gerald Deelstra. “Some people come and plant, some people put fertilizer on, some chemical companies donate some of their services – it’s all a combined effort on the part of all those different people.”

Thirty years ago, the family who provided the land for this year’s harvest, Harry and Lammie Joosse, helped start the Bluewater Growing Project.

“Years ago, Jim Core, Bill DeBoer and I started this back in the Eighties,” Harry Joosse said. “Jim was the secretary and Bill and I participated in the activity of planting, seeding and harvesting. And then after both Bill and I retired from farming, we were more or less tasked with organizing the people to do the work. We were the coordinators, I suppose. We used to call these guys and set a date and hopefully they could accommodate that date and help out.”

After having spent years raising money for the Foodgrains Bank, the Joosses had the opportunity to travel to Central America to see how the organization’s funds were being used, Harry said.

“About 15 years ago, we went to Nicaragua and Honduras just to see what happened with the money we raised,” he said. “These mission people, they got money from CFGB and they helped farmers there get going.

“When we were there, we saw that they gave money to local farmers to buy equipment to do their work, basic stuff really. But it got to the point where they became quite self-sufficient,” Joosse continued. “At one point we saw that they would use the manure from their pigs, they’d drain it into the tank and seal it, and of course that creates gas. So they’d pump the gas over to where their housing was and they would use the gas for cooking – it was very innovative.”

When asked why he has spent so many years donating his time for others who are often times on the other side of the world, Joosse said it was a gesture of fellowship and kindness to those in need.

“Well we’ve got to kind of have some sort of purpose in the world, eh?” he said, smiling. “It’s sort of mission-minded. It contributes to those in need. We harvest the crop, we sell it and the money goes to Winnipeg to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. After that the money goes around the world.

“Like I said, it’s a short story but a meaningful one,” Joosse added. “It’s all done by the community – the farmers, the churches and local businesses. The job just repeats itself from year to year.”

9 views0 comments


bottom of page