farming

Learning to farm with droughts and deluges

Soba Bika Sunchiuri shows some of the vegetables she is growing in a plastic house provided by MCC, which helps her to grow plants in spite of irregular rainfall and deluges caused by climate change. (MCC photo by Luke Reesor-Keller)

With the technical help of Brethren in Community Welfare Society, Hulai Rishidev’s cabbage field is thriving. (Photo courtesy of BICWS/Mahendra Yadav)

Sunita Tamang holds her child, Emma Tamang, 2, in front of her newly built plastic house and the drip irrigation system she will use to grow vegetables in South Lalitpur, Nepal. (MCC photo by Avash Karki)

The weather patterns in Nepal used to be regular about 15 to 20 years ago, says Durga Sunchiuri, who grew up helping his parents farm their land in the mountainous terraces of Nepal’s Terhathum District. Not anymore.

North Korean farmers visit Manitoba, build relationships

Jennifer Deibert, left, MCC North Korea program coordinator, and North Korean agricultural delegates An Hui Jun and Jon Bom Ho talk shop with Martin Entz, a professor in the plant science department at the University of Manitoba, at a research farm in Carman, Man. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Donna Rice, MCC representative for Northeast Asia, and Ambassador Ri Yong of the North Korean Mission to the United Nations, and others share a meal at the home of Charlotte and Ernie Wiens in La Salle, Man. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

In those first few minutes after arriving at Syl’s Restaurant in Carman, members of a delegation from North Korea sit at the edge of the outdoor eating area, where they see local resident Rene McFarlane at a picnic table with her son Lane. The visitors move toward McFarlane and, with the help of a translator, a conversation about families in both countries begins.

Food for thought!

Food for thought! There is something awe inspiring about big machines and, when used for a good cause, the ‘awesome factor’ is exponential. On Sept. 9, 2018, 14 massive combines completed a 135-acre barley harvest in two hours, just beating the rain. The ‘big field’ harvest on land donated by Pembina Pipelines East of Gibbons, Alta., was one part of the new Grow Hope North project of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta. The project encourages donations of $300 an acre to pay the input costs of farming the land.

Growing hope through partnerships

Olympic gold medallist Cindy Klassen, right, stands with farmers Nathan and Jeanette Janzen and their sons Evan and Bradley at the Grow Hope Saskatchewan field day. The canola lying in swaths behind them will soon be harvested for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Farmer Nathan Janzen displays some of Cindy Klassen’s Olympic medals while Klassen holds stalks of canola. (Photo by Marian Hooge Jones)

Olympian Cindy Klassen addresses Canadian Foodgrains Bank supporters at the Grow Hope Saskatchewan field day held in Rosthern recently. Seated beside Klassen are Rick Guenther, director of communications and donor relations for MCC Saskatchewan, and Rick Block, the Foodgrains Bank’s Saskatchewan coordinator. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Food security is an issue locally as well as globally. Anita Bergen, interim chair of the Rosthern and District Food Bank, left, and Nadine Ens, the food bank’s community catalyst, tell Grow Hope Saskatchewan field day participants about efforts to alleviate hunger in the Rosthern area. One of the food bank’s projects has been a community garden where Grade 3 students work with seniors to plant, tend and harvest the produce that will feed many. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“I’ve never been this close to agriculture before,” said Ingrid Lamp. “It’s quite exciting.” Lamp and her husband travelled four hours from their home in Swift Current to attend the Grow Hope Saskatchewan Field Day.

A perfect spot for gratitude...on the farm

Bob Janzen built a ‘gratitude bench’ on one of the hills of the family farm and wove the word eucharisteo (gratitude) onto the fence. (Photo by Kate Janzen)

Growing up, I never wanted to be a farmer. It seemed like farm machinery always had precedence over a new couch, curtains or nice shoes. Then I met my husband Bob at Rosthern Mennonite Collegiate in Saskatchewan, and he wanted to be a veterinarian. Naively, I never thought this would involve farming, so I taught elementary school while he studied.  

Teaching with Talking Books

MEDA distributes Talking Book devices to share information related to agriculture, gender, nutrition, finance, buyers and suppliers, and other matters that affect Ghanaian farmers. (Photo by Christian Kuder)

Talking Books can be used by MEDA clients regardless of their level of literacy. (Photo by Christian Kuder)

Ghanaian lead farmers Mariama Majeed and her husband Majeed Sohinwini listen to their Talking Book. (Photo by Christian Kuder)

Teaching technical information to people who are mostly not literate can pose serious challenges. But if use of books isn’t helpful, Talking Books can get the message across.

Bridging the rural-urban divide to help end world hunger

Larry and Marg Dyck participate in the Grow Hope Niagara project of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. They donate use of the land and farm it with the financial help of urban sponsors. The income generated goes to the hunger relief efforts of Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

Grow Hope Niagara farmer Larry Dyck hosts city-dwelling sponsors who visit the farm to see the crop and learn more about the project and farming. Their financial support helps cover the cost of seeds and fertilizer so that all proceeds of the crop can be donated to relieve world hunger. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

Grant Dyck is the main farmer of Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s Grow Hope Manitoba near Niverville, Man. At the annual harvest celebration, he tells urban sponsors about the canola crop he raised to help relieve world hunger. The funds raised in Manitoba go toward the hunger relief efforts of MCC Canada. (Photo by Bethany Daman)

Fifteen acres of wheat and a good cause—that’s what brought nearly 200 people together in Pembina Crossing, Man., in June 2018.

Some drove two hours from Winnipeg, others five minutes from their rural homes. Most came from Anglican church communities in Winnipeg.

Foodgrains Bank brews climate storm on Twitter

Kenyan farmer Mary Mutua uses conservation agriculture principles promoted by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Her fields are healthier and more advanced than neighbouring crops. These methods are a way to increase resilience to climate change. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo by Valerie Gwinner)

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank walks a fine line on climate and walks it well. A recent and rare slip demonstrated the tensions it, like the rest of us, must navigate.

A tale of two hills outside Lalibela

Berzegin Yimam stands in front of the protected hill outside of Lalibela, Ethiopia. She is a member of the local committee responsible for protecting the hillside. Since restoring the hillside, the community has seen many benefits, including more reliable water springs and new plants that can be used to make organic pesticide. (Photo by Stefan Epp-Koop)

Two hills, sitting side by side in a valley outside of Lalibela, Ethiopia, have a story to tell.

One hill is brown, its vegetation stripped away by livestock and deforestation. Deep gullies are carved through the hillside, where the unprotected soil was washed away by the rain. Trees have disappeared, cut down for firewood.

The ordinary lives of ordinary Mennonites

The documentary "Seven Points on Earth," features Mennonite farmers around the world.

Seven Points on Earth, Paul Plett’s documentary about Mennonite farmers around the world, premiered at Winnipeg’s Real to Reel Film Festival on Feb. 21, 2018. The hour-long film tells the story of seven Mennonite farming families in seven different countries: Canada (Manitoba), United States (Iowa), The Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Bolivia and Russia (Siberia).

Hauling strawberries

Photo: Jacob J. Doerksen Family Photo Collection / Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

In February 1928, the first trainload of Mennonite farmers from the Prairies arrived in Yarrow, British Columbia, with prospects of farming the newly accessible land in the Fraser Valley. The introduction of raspberry and strawberry farming in the early 1930s increased the viability of these farms. The photo shows Len Doerksen (b. 1936) with his little brother Dan (b.

‘The level of mechanization was amazing to witness’

John Mbae visits the dairy farm of Walter and Peggy Wiebe, who are Bergthaler Mennonites living near Hague, Sask. After seeing the Wiebe’s fully-automated dairy barn, Mbae remarked, ‘The cows were milking themselves with the machines monitoring and controlling the milking.’ (Photo by Rick Block)

For John Mbae, a Canadian Foodgrains Bank conservation agriculture technical specialist based in Kenya, a visit to the Canadian Prairies was informative and inspiring.

Growing projects celebrate a successful 2017

The 2017 Bear Lake growing project in Wembley, Alta., harvested 64 hectares of barley. Once sold, the proceeds will be used by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to respond to emergency situations such as those in Syria, South Sudan and Kenya. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank likes to talk about its “farm”—the thousands of hectares across Canada, from P.E.I. to B.C., that are planted by community growing projects to raise funds for the work of ending global hunger.

Farmers, thinkers, eaters

Field day at the University of Manitoba's Carman research farm. (Photo courtesy of Natural Systems Agriculture, University of Manitoba)

Harvesting grain as part of a long-term organic crop rotation study at the University of Manitoba's Glenlea research farm. (Photo courtesy of Natural Systems Agriculture, University of Manitoba)

Laura, the sheep, participating in an organic cover crop grazing study at the University of Manitoba's Carman research farm. (Photo courtesy of Natural Systems Agriculture, University of Manitoba)

Agriculture is changing. Perhaps it always has been. Markets realign. Tastes shift. Ideas evolve. Climatic conditions rearrange.

Mennonites are part of the change—as farmers, thinkers and eaters. 

Tractor and binder

 

The Voth family in the Steinbach, Manitoba, area on the farm with tractor and binder in the 1940s. August is a busy harvesting time for farmers and gardeners with eyes on the upcoming fall and winter. Farming has changed dramatically in the past decades but remains the backbone to feeding the country and beyond.

Field of dreams

Kalynn Spain’s interest in agriculture led her to visit 130 small farms throughout Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Kalynn Spain)

Jedidiah Morton has worked on a dairy farm for the past eight-and-a-half years. (Photo courtesy of Jedidiah Morton)

‘I'm a dairyman, and that's never gonna change,’ Jedidiah Morton says. (Photo courtesy of Jedidiah Morton)

Kalynn Spain spent a summer raising pigs at Camp Assiniboia. (Photo courtesy of Kalynn Spain)

Owning a farm is a dream come true for Nathan Klassen. (Courtesy of Nathan Klassen)

What are the risks and rewards for people who choose a life on the farm? Young Voices spoke with three young Canadian Mennonites who work in agriculture to find out.

Jedidiah Morton, 23
Didsbury, Alta.

World record for relief *

Volunteers on antique threshing machines raised funds that the Canadian Foodgrains Bank will use to help small-scale farm families in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya learn to grow more and better food, so they can better provide for their families. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

(Photo by Shaylyn McMahon)

(Photo by John Longhurst)

(Photo courtesy of Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

(Photo by John Longhurst)

(Photo by John Longhurst)

Manitoba became home to another world record on July 31, 2016, when 139 antique threshing machines harvested a field simultaneously for 15 minutes at the 62nd Manitoba Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede held at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin. Nine others started, but, for various mechanical reasons, couldn’t finish the 15-minute test.

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