Sheila and Clarence Reimer are long-time MCC supporters, but up until recently had never seen the impact of their donations first-hand.
The Reimers farm about 2,300 acres of wheat, canola, oats and soybeans south of Crystal City, Manitoba with their son, Dylan.
The couple was invited to take part in an MCC learning tour to southern Africa earlier this year and saw, among other things, the food projects they’ve donated to for years. The learning tour primarily focused on communities in Zimbabwe.
The Reimers say it was an opportunity they “couldn’t pass up.”
“It was exciting to see what happens with funds that are donated,” Sheila says.
As farmers, the things that were most moving for the couple was seeing the way Zimbabwean farmers tended to their land.
Photo courtesy of Sheila Reimer.
Some of the MCC projects the tour group visited were education-oriented and involved teaching farmers the benefits of conservation agriculture.
MCC’s partners often use test plots where they show the difference between a traditional method of farming and conservation agriculture, which involves farming on time, manually working the ground rather than using machines or animals to plow, covering crops and introducing different seed varieties.
“We saw corn where they had mulch, and corn where they didn’t and the corn was about a foot shorter. The yields were a lot better (in the conservation agriculture test plot),” Clarence explains.
For Sheila, it was difficult to see how farmers were just trying to get through a drought year and couldn’t afford to plan for the future, especially considering her own experience with farming.
“We have far more than we’d ever, ever eat, but in Zimbabwe, on some farms people were trying to grow enough to feed themselves for the year,” Sheila says.
On another field visit, the group visited a college that started a farm to support itself. MCC supported the institute by providing money for a well.
“It affirmed for us the belief that supporting organizations like MCC and Canadian Foodgrains Bank is very important. It affirmed for me that we have so much to give here in North America and it makes a difference for people who live there," Sheila says.
The couple say they got a lot out of the learning tour.
“The farmers would say, ‘This is what we’re doing, this is how we’re doing, this is a new bean crop, this is a new peanut introduction,’” Sheila says. “You wouldn’t know that sitting here writing our cheque.”
MCC Manitoba’s executive director, Darryl Loewen invited the Reimers to participate in the learning tour.
“We’re so grateful for donors like Clarence and Sheila and we wanted them to see what a difference their money makes in the lives of people around the world,” he says.
To learn more about food projects supported by MCC, visit our Grow Hope page at http://mccmb.ca/GrowHope.