MCC photo/Matthew Sawatzky

Chloe Waldner (8), Summer Kleinsasser (5), and Jerry Waldner take a close look at the wheat Crystal Spring Hutterite Colony grew for MCC’s Grow Hope project. After Jerry and his wife Linda participated in a learning tour to Ethiopia, the colony increased the amount of land they donate to Grow Hope. Proceeds from every acre of farmland sponsored through Grow Hope go to MCC's account in Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

The Crystal Spring Hutterite Colony seems to live according to the adage, “one good deed deserves another.”

The colony of about 180 people near Ste. Agathe, Manitoba collectively donated 50 acres of land to MCC’s Grow Hope campaign last year. This year they’re donating even more after two members visited Ethiopia where MCC partners are addressing food security needs.

In January, Jerry and Linda Waldner were invited to take part in a Canadian Foodgrains Bank learning tour to the east African country which is severely affected by drought. MCC is a member organization of the Foodgrains Bank.

Jerry and Linda Waldner with Foodgrains Bank staff person Stephanie Ball, the Ethiopian Highlands in the background.CFGB photo

“I didn’t know anything about this part of the world,” Linda says.

“We needed to know, to see it on our own. Pictures don’t tell you anything compared to seeing it,” Jerry adds.

The group visited Foodgrains Bank supported food and water programs in central and northern Ethiopia. The Waldners recall seeing the project fields full of green vegetables, surrounded by dusty, infertile soil.

“It was very encouraging to see what those donations are doing,” Jerry says.

"When you see what you give, it helps but you feel like you should do more."

- Linda Waldner

The colony members felt compelled to contribute even more to MCC’s work after the learning tour.

One day during their travels, the group was passing through a village when it started to rain. Linda saw a woman holding a baby while catching the rainwater dripping off her roof with a tin can.

Seeing the scale of need in Ethiopia affected the couple. It seemed like the donations the colony had made in the past were a drop in the bucket.

Linda says, “When you see what you give, it helps but you feel like you should do more.”

The group visits a project field irrigated through water diversion near Lalibela in Northern Ethiopia.CFGB photo

And so they are.

The colony farms wheat, canola, soybeans and spelt. The members share the profits, but also collectively donate time and money to charity. This year, they’re donating 30 more acres of land to Grow Hope, a total of 80 acres.

In support of Grow Hope in Manitoba, donors can sponsor partial or full acres of land on the colony’s farm. Throughout the growing season, colony members will farm the land and then donate the proceeds after harvest to MCC’s account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank. From there, the donation will be matched by the Canadian government. 

"We needed to know, to see it on our own. Pictures don't tell you anything compared to seeing it."

- Jerry Waldner

Sponsoring one acre costs $300, but that can translate into as much as $2,500 for food projects around the world. If all the colony’s acres are sponsored, it could turn into as much as $200,000—money that will provide emergency food assistance and support long-term food security in places like Ethiopia.

Last year the colony helped MCC Manitoba raise over $1 million with their neighbours Grant and Colleen Dyck of Artel Farms.

The Waldners were also inspired to share what they witnessed with others.

Jerry spoke to members of Silver Winds Hutterite Community near Rosenort, Manitoba and now they’re donating 40 acres of their own land.

“I think everyone would feel like they should give more if they were on that tour. I think it makes a difference,” he says.

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