Browsing Category: Agriculture

Farmers in North Dakota Find Hope in Every Harvest

Just like most farmers, Russell and Holly Edgar have experienced hardships. The Red River Flood of 1997 caused mass destruction to their land in North Dakota and they were unable to plant crops on half their farm for more than two years. They were forced to sell their equipment and rent out the farm that had been in their family since the 1800’s. But Russell knew that wasn’t the end for them.

“I started thinking about what it would take to build a dairy heifer-raising facility on our land,” Russell explains. “I would wake up some mornings with design ideas.”

In 2004, the Edgars started construction on a 3,000-head facility. Once up and running, they were able to work toward getting their land back.

“I felt like God was telling me that since he had helped us through that difficult time, it was our turn to do something for others,” Russell adds.

Russell spoke with a friend of his who worked with the grain donation program, producing food for Convoy of Hope. Bob and LeAnn Bachman explained the program to the Edgar family, who decided that pinto beans would be the best fit for the children Convoy of Hope serves.

“I decided to donate 20 acres of pinto beans to the feeding program,” Russell says. “I received tremendous favor and reached out to a local bean seed company who donated all the seeds for free.”

Since then, the Edgars continue to donate pinto beans and corn to Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding Initiative serving countries like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and the Philippines. They are proof that there is hope in every harvest.

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Agriculture

Fighting Hunger through Agriculture in Nicaragua

Five years ago, Convoy of Hope launched our Agriculture Initiative to teach impoverished farmers how to grow more abundant, disease-free crops. Under the guidance of our own Dr. Jason Streubel, tens of thousands of farmers in four countries have been able to grow crops that now feed their families and produce an income when the extra harvest is sold at market.

For the last two years, Calixta Cruz has directed our Agriculture Initiative in Nicaragua. Because she came from an impoverished farming family herself, she loves teaching farmers — especially students — how to grow crops that thrive so their lives are changed for the better.

What kind of obstacles have you faced?

My father passed away when I was five years old so my brother had to work to support our family. My mom baked bread in the morning and my sister and I would help her make the bread and sell it after school. I graduated high school in 2007 and wanted to attend university, but I didn’t get a scholarship. I shared a room with six other students and worked hard my first year, then got a scholarship my second year. I graduated with the highest grades in my class. I want people to know that anything is possible.

What’s your favorite part of working for Convoy?

When I go to see the school gardens. Kids ask me to teach them about the garden and ask if they can help. Several students have gardens at home now, and they’ve shown their neighbors how to start gardens too. I like to remind the kids they have to fight for what they want and can’t let any obstacles get in their way.

What was your most memorable moment working at Convoy?

I was working with sixth graders at a school, and we were sifting through soil for our garden, taking out glass and stones. I noticed that the kids were laughing nonstop and realized they had put a dead mouse in the dirt where I was working and I grabbed it without even realizing it! It was so funny!

Outside of work, what do you like to do?

I love talking with my family and I spend a lot of time thinking about work and how to improve things for the people we serve. I also enjoy going to church, the movies and hanging out with friends.

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Agriculture / Staff Spotlight

Hope That Sustains

If you were given $1 per day, how would you spend it? For many working class Filipinos, this is a reality. Every day, they’re burdened with the challenge of providing enough for their families. Countless hours of backbreaking labor yields enough pesos to rummage a small portion of rice and a couple sardines — hardly enough to feed a family of four.

But when we create sustainable solutions to poverty, we empower people to become self-reliant. For the people of Calajunan, Philippines, we did so through an innovative aquaponics system installed by a Field Teams group from Bonita Valley Church in California.

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Nate Shuck, U.S.-based worker who spearheaded the project, describes aquaponics as a cross between aquaculture, the raising of fish, and hydroponics — growing plants and vegetables in a soil-free system.

“The waste produced by farmed fish supplies nutrients for the plants to grow hydroponically, which creates both food and clean water for the people in the community,” Shuck says.

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The community will be able to produce 7 to 10 times more food in the aquaponics system, compared to growing it in a traditional garden. They plan on harvesting lettuce, tomatoes, bok choy and tilapia. A portion of the food can also be sold at the corner store to provide income for their families.

Alleviating the burden of hunger allows the people of Calajunan to use their hard-earned income on other basic necessities.

“Every day, I think of the thousands of meals this system will provide for years to come,” Shuck adds.

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Agriculture / Program Updates

Every Day is Earth Day When you Work in Agriculture

Today, the world gathers around to celebrate the earth and all it has to offer. As a scientist, I appreciate a day of focus on the earth because the earth is awesome!

Take a sip of water and think about how that water has been part of the hydrological cycle since the beginning of creation. It’s traveled the globe in clouds over the oceans, condensed at the foot of mountains, and dropped onto the soil — the ultimate water filter — so we can drink it. We can breathe in oxygen produced in abundance by photosynthesis in the green of plants. We should celebrate Earth Day as a reminder of the wonder of the design of creation and not take it for granted.     

However, if you work in agriculture, every day is Earth Day. Farmers can understand what Henry Wallace said as the Secretary of Agriculture in 1938: “The social lesson of soil waste is that no man has the right to destroy soil even if he does own it in fee simple.”   

Farmers and their families who work the land to provide food for the world understand soil’s importance.

Many will plant trees, march in parades, or protest policy makers, but we simply salute those who celebrate Earth Day every day:

  • The leaders and kids in Rayville, Louisiana, who came last week to learn about the basics of soil health and seed planting.
  • The North Dakota soybean farmer who leads his commercial agriculture processes with sustainability to ensure there is a balance between people, profit and planet.
  • The organic dairy farmer in Minnesota who balanced his nutrients on and off the farm before anyone knew what “organic” even meant.
  • The women in Tanzania who are learning to compost so they can keep the soil productive for generations to come, and not just seasons.

We celebrate you! Keep up the good work and thanks for enabling us to feed the world.  

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Agriculture