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Farmers lend land and labour to Foodgrains Bank

As reported in the Sarnia Observer, October 9, 2015 by John DeGroot



Hats off to a group of local farmers with big hearts.


It starts with a local farmer who is willing to lend a piece of land for a year. One of those local farmers is Harry and Lammie Joosse, who donated the use of 36 acres of land on Brigden Road, just south of Churchill Line.


“There’s another 46 acre parcel up the road,” explained Joosse. “And on Confed there’s two smaller pieces, plus 36 acres on Churchill Line. In all, I think there’s 150 acres right in this area.”

The generosity does not end with the donation of land. Neighbouring farmers lend a helping hand cultivating the ground, planting the seed, applying fertilizer, taking care of weeds, and finally harvesting the crop.

“It’s really quite a sight to see, when all these farmers gather on one farm to collectively get the job done, especially when you see all the combines,” says Joosse. “The job gets done in no time.”

In addition to volunteer labour, the local committee seeks out a good deal on seed, spray, and fertilizer and other material costs.

Jack Koetsier, chair of the local group, explains further. “It is a real combined effort by a lot of farmers and supporters.  We even have our accounting services donated,” says Koetsier. “At the end of the season when it is time to harvest, we might have nearly all the grain proceeds sent to CFGB.”

Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) is the benefactor of the grain, consisting mostly of corn, soybeans and wheat. Projects similar to the Lambton County efforts are dotted all over Canada, including a similar endeavor in south Lambton, headed up largely by farmers attending the Courtright-6’th Line United Church.

Once the harvest is complete, the grain is sold, and the proceeds are sent to the Foodgrains Bank, who in turn support international programs to meet immediate food needs, reduce malnutrition and increase food security.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is no ordinary bank, but is a cooperative partnership of 15 member church and church-based agencies representing 30 denominations and many more supporters. The largest member agency is the Mennonite Central Committee, followed by the United Church of Canada, and World Renew, the development arm of the Christian Reformed Church.  

The Government of Canada, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada has been key to the operation of the Foodgrains Bank since its inception in 1983. Donations to the Foodgrains Bank are leveraged on a four-to-one basis for food assistance up to $25 million.

DFATD uses the Foodgrains Bank to fulfill its obligation to Canadians to assist people and communities in about 40 countries. A main focus today is assistance to Syrian refugees displaced in camps and temporary shelters neighbouring Syria. DFATD knows that support to agencies such as World Renew and Mennonite Central Committee is a most effective way for aid to reach those where the need is greatest.

In addition to granting support to agencies and partners in the developing world, the Foodgrains Bank has its own staff who work on the ground internationally. Administrative offices are located in Winnipeg where accounting takes place as well as advocacy work, fund raising and public engagement to educate Canadians about global hunger.

Thanksgiving is an appropriate time to acknowledge the work of many farmers who quietly do their part to support the Foodgrains Bank’s work. To learn more or make a donation, go to www.foodgrainsbank.ca.

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