Grow Hope aims to bring emergency and long-term food security to the most vulnerable people.
Every year, MCC partners with local farmers, Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB), the Government of Canada, and compassionate supporters, to grow and sell crops, in order to: alleviate hunger and improve nutrition, build farmer resilience against climate change, increase yields and strengthen income and empower women and improve family wellbeing.
Meet Wendy Friesen!
Wendy is the landowner of H & M Farms’ Grow Hope field located near Altona, Man. She offers the land rent-free to local farmer Kyle Friesen. Wendy also happens to be Kyle’s mother. And she recently spoke with MCC about her personal farming experiences and interest in Grow Hope.
Q - What’s your farming background?
I grew up in the small town of Altona, but my husband Jerry grew up on a farm and was interested in making farming his career. We moved to his family farm when we got married in 1980. We had a hog operation and grew a variety of crops over the years. As a young farmer’s wife, I had much to learn and at times felt my contribution was minimal, but Jerry always valued my role and I grew to love farm life. We shared the bookkeeping responsibilities and discussed major farming decisions together. I enjoyed working outdoors and spent many hours during the summer months maintaining the farmyard. Mealtimes provided opportunities for some family time together, often including a few passes up and down the field in the tractor cab.
Life took some unexpected turns, first in 2012 when I suffered a spinal cord injury and could no longer carry out my farm-related responsibilities, and then again in 2015 when Jerry was diagnosed with a fast moving, untreatable illness. Shortly before his passing, I moved to Altona and our younger son and daughter in-law took over the farm operation.
Q - How did Grow Hope pique your interest? Why did you decide to get involved?
My son Kyle invited me to get involved after H & M Farms joined Grow Hope as farmers and I was all too happy to be a part of that. Grow Hope was a good combination of my interests in farming and the work of MCC, done in the name of Christ.
I like that Grow Hope connects urban supporters with farmers; I see this as a positive way to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between these two groups, and a way to work together in bringing hope to people in places where hunger can be a daily reality. I also like that Grow Hope food projects tend to empower women, which in turn improves family and community life. As Christians, I believe that we are called to steward well what we have been given, and this is one way for me to live that out.
Q - What values, farming or philanthropic, would you hope to
pass on to young people, like your grandchildren?
Farming values: I want my grandchildren to learn the value of working together. It’s not an “I thing,” it’s a “we thing.” We all have a part to play, and we do this as a team. I would also like for them to have an appreciation of and respect for the land and the miracle of life that is held within a seed, how it can flourish when given the right environment, for the wonder and intricacy of God’s creation.
Philanthropic values: Over the years, Jerry and I had the opportunity to travel to several countries, where we were involved in humanitarian work including participating in MCC Work & Learn trips to El Salvador after the 2001 earthquake. These experiences really opened my eyes to the privilege we have and made me realize that we have been given much, but it’s not only meant to benefit us, it’s meant to be shared. We were also received with amazing hospitality and generosity—another lesson to be learned.