The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee receives significant financial support through its membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB). The fundraising event described below will in part fund CRWRC projects.

The organizers of Harvest for Hunger (left to right) Mike Koetsier, Randy Drenth, Rich van Donkersgoed, John Tollenaar, and Peter Rastorfer (not pictured). Photo by David & Kathryn Mayberry

Preparing the field for planting.  Photo by Carol Ann Elisen

This 160 acre field of soybeans will hopefully raise more than $200,000 for people in need. Photo by Carol Ann Elisen

One hundred and sixty acres of soybeans are growing near Listowel, Ontario and will soon have a huge impact on families around the world. Through the combined efforts of local farmers, agri-businesses, and rural and urban churches the soybean field has been planted with the goal of raising thousands of dollars for people in need through CFGB. Dubbed “Harvest for Hunger”, the project’s organizers also hope to break a world record by harvesting the crop in less than five minutes.

It all began in January, when five Christian Reformed farmers saw a YouTube video and decided to do something similar.

“Other charities have done this type of event,” said Randy Drenth, one of the Harvest for Hunger organizers. “A couple of guys from church saw a video on YouTube of several combines harvesting a field at one time in order to break the world record. When we met in January to talk about what kind of growing project we could do this year to support CFGB, we decided to give it a try. Through God's wonderful works, the pieces have fallen into place. It has been an amazing journey.”

After the initial meeting, Drenth – along with co-organizers Richard Van Donkersgoed, Peter Rastorfer, Mike Koetsier and John Tollenaar – got working. The 160 acre field was planted this spring despite frequent rains that made planting difficult. Local agri-businesses donated between $15,000 and $20,000 of seed, fertilizer, and other inputs towards the cause. Now, as the crop continues to grow and mature, the project’s organizers are getting excited about what it could mean for people in need. They estimate that, once the crop is harvested, it can be sold off to raise in excess of $200,000 for CFGB programs.

“We live in a very blessed part of the world and take a lot for granted,” said Drenth. “We are called to give all we have to the work of the Lord. Harvest for Hunger has given a lot of North Americans the opportunity to do that. As each person contributes in their own way, they are showing how using God’s gifts for His purposes can have amazing results.”

While the organizers of the project are Christian Reformed, Harvest for Hunger has received support from churches and individuals from a variety of denominational backgrounds. They are also recruiting farmers from any background to show up on harvest day, September 30, with their combines.

“We are encouraging combine owners and operators to be part of something really big,” said Kathryn Mayberry, Ontario Resource Coordinator for CFGB. “Currently, about 100 farmers have signed up to be part of this world record attempt. This could be a once in a lifetime event.”

Families are encouraged to come cheer the harvesters on as well. A large wheat field immediately west of the Harvest for Hunger site will be used for parking and viewing the harvest. Bleachers, portable bathrooms, food, refreshments, and entertainment have all been offered from those in the local community and beyond.

Those unable to attend the event can still get involved by “sponsoring” a bushel. The organizers plan to sell the soybeans for $20 a bushel to grain traders after the harvest. They also hope to double the impact by having churches and individuals “buy” a bushel for a donation of $20, so that each bushel in effect raises $40 for people in need.

“Everyone is invited to come to the table. Bring your family and your combine or just make a donation. Let’s show the rest of the world how incredible farmers and Christians really are,” said Mayberry.

Harvest for Hunger is just one of over 200 growing and community projects across Canada that raise money for CFGB and its member agencies. Altogether, about $4.5 million is raised each year through these efforts. For more information about starting a CFGB growing project in your area, contact Vanessa Mathews-Hanna at 1-800-730-3490 .