The 10-acre corn field owned by Tiessen Acres near Leamington, Ontario, has a purpose. The proceeds of the field will be donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB), as part of the Sun Parlor Growing Project.
On Sunday, June 25, the project organizers hosted a fundraiser for CFGB in the Tiessen Acres machine shed. Over 200 people attended and were treated to a lunch of roll kuchen and watermelon, and the music of the Sherk Street Power Trio.
Henry Klassen, the event’s main organizer, was very happy with the turnout, and the more than $8,000 raised.
Klassen told the gathering that, “One of the goals of these local projects is to create awareness of the work that the foodgrains bank is doing, but another goal is to encourage the continuing need for your support.”
Klassen said the event was intended to raise money to assist in paying to rent the land and defraying the significant costs of inputs. “One of the most costly inputs, besides the seed cost, is fertilizer,” Klassen said. “The Tiessen family uses a very good fertilizer program on their planted corn acres, and these 10 acres received the same.” Herbicide is another cost. The field may also be sprayed with fungicide, depending on conditions.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank was started by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in the mid 1970s as a way to allow Canadian farmers to donate grain for overseas aid. Initially, the foodgrains bank stored grain for shipment in emergency situations. This allowed MCC to have food available when it was needed.
Over time, other denominational organizations became involved. Today, CFGB includes 15 denominations in Canada.
The organization has also stopped shipping Canadian grain overseas, opting to purchase grain closer to the places of need. Grain donated in Canada is sold here, with proceeds going to CFGB.
According to Tom Neufeld, MCC Ontario’s CFGB Stewardship Coordinator, the federal government will match donations up to 4 to 1, to a total of $25 million annually. Neufeld attended the Sun Parlor Growing Project fundraiser and addressed the crowd, thanked them, and led in a dedication of the corn field.