Grant Dyck and MCC volunteer Ed Barkman
MCC photo/Bethany Daman

Niverville farmer Grant Dyck shows MCC volunteer Ed Barkman the land where Manitobans are sponsoring acres to help fight hunger.

Niverville farm family invites sponsors to help turn crops into hope

 

This summer, a Niverville farm couple are doing something different—they’ve invited Manitobans to join them in farming their land.

The couple—Grant Dyck, and his wife, Colleen—are second-generation grain and oilseed farmers. They live with their four kids just outside Niverville, and plant a crop on their farm every spring.

They aren’t literally inviting people to come drive tractors and combines and farm their land. What they’re doing is giving people in the province a chance to sponsor an acre of grain that will be grown to support Mennonite Central Committee and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank in helping people who don’t have enough to eat in the developing world.

“Colleen and I have been farming for 15 years,” says Dyck. “We’ve been very blessed, and we’ve always had a heart for those less fortunate, so this project is a way of contributing to helping those in need.”

Here’s how it works: When people pay $300 for the input costs needed to farm an acre of land, Grant and his family will farm that acre and donate the proceeds to MCC’s account in the Foodgrains Bank. 

When that acre is harvested, Grant expects to sell it for as much as $500. After donating it to MCC, it will be matched by the Canadian government up to 4:1—meaning that it could turn into as much as $2,500 to help those caught in emergencies and empower people who face ongoing food insecurity.

Cindy Klassen's appeal - Grow Hope!

Cindy Klassen is becoming a farmer! Watch the video to find out why.

One of the “farmers” partnering with the Dyck family is someone many Manitobans will recognize—Olympic speed skater Cindy Klassen, one of Canada’s most-decorated Olympians.

“Growing up in Canada, we’re so blessed and privileged,” says Klassen. “It’s important to give back to people who are less fortunate, and to reach out to people in need. I feel like it’s an honour to help people, because I’ve been given so much.”

For Klassen, a city-dweller, one of the things that excites her about the project is the ability to connect with a farmer.

“Seeing the project grow and receiving updates is a pretty neat aspect of it,” she says.

“It’s really neat to see the farming progress through the summer and fall, seeing how what you’re putting in is growing, and knowing that you’re helping people across the world.”

Providing a way for urban people who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to be connected to the land is also important to Dyck.

“There often seems to be a divide between urban and rural people,” he says. “I see Grow Hope as a way of bridging that gap, and it’s an honour that we are able to do this project. We’re extremely excited to see this project through.”

The project has caught the imagination of other Manitobans, as well.

Pat Funk found out about Grow Hope by chance, through a video posted on her son’s Facebook page.

The week after that, she says, she saw the kids in Sunday School from her home church, Douglas Mennonite, raising money to try and sponsor an acre.

I thought, "if the Sunday School can sponsor an acre, so can I!"

“I thought, ‘if the Sunday School can sponsor an acre, so can I,’” she says.

“As a mom, I’m passionate about food. It triggers my heart to stop to think about people going hungry. Being able to farm to feed someone makes it tangible.”

Funk liked the idea so much she decided to invite her friends and colleagues to join her.

“I sent out an email asking ‘who wants to farm an acre with me?’” she says.

It didn’t take long before she had a whole cohort of fellow farmers excited to get involved.

Grow Hope 2015 photo updates

Grow Hope sponsors receive regular updates from the farms about how their acre is doing. Check out the photo updates from last year here.

Fostering a spirit of unity amongst urban and rural Canadians and extending that outward to feed hungry people around the world was what the Dyck family had hoped since the beginning of the project.

“There are people in need,” says Grant Dyck. We want to contribute to ending that need any way we can.”

Become a farmer and sponsor an acre through Grow Hope--click below to donate today!.

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