Last year a Niverville farmer, an Olympic hero and dozens of Manitobans worked together to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for MCC. They’re not finished, though, because they think they can do even more this year. And they need your help.
Grant and Colleen Dyck live just outside of Niverville, Manitoba where they raise their four children and run Artel Farms. Last year, they made MCC a generous offer: for every acre on their farm that someone sponsored for $300, they would donate the proceeds to MCC’s account at Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
By the end of the summer, that offer meant up to $500,000 to fight hunger in places like Kenya, South Sudan and Syria.
“Colleen and I have been farming for 15 years,” says Grant. “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.”
For years, farmers in Manitoba have been partnering with the Foodgrains Bank to help end hunger around the world. The one-of-a-kind arrangement that the Foodgrains Bank has with the Canadian Government means that every dollar given to MCC’s account in the Foodgrains Bank is matched by the government—at a minimum of 1:1, but in many cases at a rate of 4:1. That means every dollar from the farmer can become five dollars for MCC’s food-related programs.
“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.”
Last year, thanks to Grant and Colleen, plenty of Manitobans who aren’t farmers got in on it too.
Pat Funk was one of those Manitobans.
“As a mom, I’m passionate about food,” Pat says. “It triggers my heart to stop to think about people going hungry. Being able to farm to feed someone makes it tangible.”
She 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.
Their $300 acre of wheat sold for over $500 after harvest, and then was eligible for matching through the Foodgrains Bank. That means their $300 sponsorship turned into over $2500.
One of the first to sign up as a farmer was one of Manitoba’s favorite Olympic heroes, speed-skater Cindy Klassen.
“This is such an amazing campaign, a way of giving back,” she says, “I loved getting updates from the farm about how my acre was doing.”
Excitement about the opportunity was contagious. Sunday schools and churches raised funds together. A Grade 2 class recycling project raised enough to sponsor two acres. At a church in Brandon, generous members offered to match gifts from the rest of the church. By the end of the summer, over 200 acres had been sponsored, which meant as much as $500,000 went towards MCC’s food assistance work.
In August, 60 of the sponsors gathered at Grant’s farm for a harvest celebration to see their acres and meet Grant and Cindy. “What you are doing is going to touch a lot of people,” said Vurayayi Pugeni, MCC’s Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Recovery Coordinator.
“You are giving these people opportunity, and the dignity of being able to feed themselves and their families.”
This year, Grant has made the same offer to Manitobans, but he wants to beat last year’s numbers. He’s set aside 300 acres of land, and hopes to see them all sponsored this spring. That would mean close to $750,000. And this year, all the proceeds from Grow Hope will go straight to MCC’s response to the crisis in Syria, where millions are in need.
“The crisis in Syria has dragged on for years, and people sometimes don’t know how to make a difference,” says Cindy, “But thanks to Grant and Grow Hope, they have a powerful way to respond. Last year was awesome, but I hope we’ll do even better this year.”
“There are people in need,” says Grant Dyck. “We want to contribute to ending that need any way we can.”