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Harvest for Hunger a huge success as cash raised nears $250,000

MONKTON - The Harvest for Hunger was everything the organizers hoped for as a fundraiser for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

In addition, 160 acres of cash crops were harvested in record time but not quite in the target time the organizers had set for themselves.

Farmers in the Monkton area set a world record time for harvesting 160 acres of standing soybeans in 11 minutes and 43.59 seconds. They put 115 combines, each valued somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000, into the field and harvested an estimated 8,000 bushels for the fundraising auction that followed.

“The success of the auction, a beautiful day and a crowd of more than 3,000 has made up for any disappointment at not meeting our target time of 10 minutes,” said Randy Drenth, chairman of the organizing committee, after the event.

Committee members estimated total funds raised was closer to $250,000 than the target $200,000 for famine relief. All of the inputs to grow the soybean crop and of the ingredients for the lunch available to spectators were donated by local businesses. Lunch was available for a donation to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

That auction started with record setting prices. The first winning bid for one bushel sold to the public was $1,000. As auctioneers often do, the crowd was asked if others wanted a bushel at that price. Almost 20 bushels were quickly taken up.

The first two large lots of 1,600 bushels each were taken up by the grain trade at $36 per bushel - well above market price.

More precise numbers will be available once the final weight of the soybeans is known.

“This is a world record in its own right,” said Elbert van Donkersgoed, a spokesperson for the Harvest for Hunger committee said. “The farmers are a little disappointed that their pace was a little off the time set by Manitoba farmers in swathed wheat last year.”

That pace was 11 minutes, 8 seconds.

“Every farmer will tell you that organizing a speed harvest in standing soybeans was much more challenging than in swathed wheat,” van Donkersgoed said. “The Manitoba attempt included cutting and windrowing the grain in the days before the harvest. This allowed combines to line up beside each other with ample space between them. In standing grain, combines have to cut overlapping swaths and be behind each other in a staggered pattern.”

When asked why the thoroughly planned event did not meet the 10 minute target the answer was the typical challenges that farmers face every day: equipment break down and equipment jams.

“At least two of the combines plugged up and another two had equipment failure,” van Donkersgoed said. “The combines that had no trouble completing their swath did so in less than the target 10 minutes but a number were needed to turn around and cut part of a swath for those that were out of the race.”

Whether the group met its goals for people who attended were thrilled.

In a letter sent to the Advertiser, Marlin Stoltz, of Stoltz Sales & Service, said, “The whole day was a miracle. It was truly an awesome day.  Congratulations to all, a job well done. I hope that more people will be as inspired as I was with the events of the day.

“Thank you for allowing me to be part of Harvest for Hunger.  It will be an experience that I will remember for a long time.

People can also increase the support for the hunger relief effort by “donating a bushel” for  $20 on the website of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of Canadian Christian churches and church-based agencies working to end hunger in developing countries.

The harvest was extensively documented. There were two fixed wing aircraft and three helicopters over the site. There were cameras on four skyjacks, on combines and in the field on utility vehicles. Early results can be seen at http://harvest4hunger.wordpress.com/.

 

October 21, 2011

 
 

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