Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
As fall harvest season is in full swing, one thinks of many things: safety for the farmers, market prices, how much more (or less) crop is being harvested this year, what the crop may be used for. Way in the back of most people's minds might be world hunger. Several local individuals think a great deal about hunger elsewhere in the world. And they're doing something about it. Pastor Lloyd Melvie, a farm boy by upbringing and at heart, has been working with Foods Resource Bank (FRB) for eight years now. He is secretary of the West Central Minnesota growing project formed six years ago. FRB is "a Christian response to hunger." Put more simply, it is a matching of ability with need. It is farmers here in North America doing what they do best - farming - with the results of that going to farmers in needy areas of the world. Melvie's local group includes members of the Dawson, Raymond, Kirkhoven, Spicer and Kimball communities. They raise an average of $10,000 a year from numerous small projects. Rather than sending food or other material goods across the world, which would be horribly expensive and inefficient, money is sent to farm projects around the world. Current projects can be found in about 38 countries in Central America, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. The beneficiaries of Melvie's group currently are two projects: an agricultural research program in Central African Republic and a telapia (fish) farm in Thailand.
In the Central African Republic, local villages and farmers are working on agriforestry, growing fruit and nut trees as food. In Thailand, money from FRB has helped to establish a telapia farm as an independent enterprise where they now produce the fish food pellets they used to have to buy. They now sell the pellets to other farms. The goal is sustainable food production, and FRB projects overseas often involve an entire village. What FRB offers is a long-term solution to hunger rather than just emergency relief (which they also can provide through another program). What is now FRB was begun in Canada by the Mennonites. FRB now encompasses most major denominations, many of which have their own programs within FRB (such as Covenant World Relief). There is a good deal of cooperation between the various denominational programs. Melvie is not alone in his efforts. Although he may be found out on an old tractor plowing or cultivating, a number of people are involved in the process.
In one instance, Barb Vigoren of Kimball asked Lowell Olson to do something about tall weeds growing in one of her fields. Olson asked Melvie to disk the field (with Olson's equipment). During the many hours it took to disk through giant pigweed, Melvie wondered what Vigoren would do with the land. The end result was that the field, about five acres, was planted in wheat. It was harvested last month, and the money from selling it will be added to the FRB for use overseas. "I just feel so blessed," Vigoren said of the experience. Not only did she deal with her weed problem, but she is helping to feed people across the world. "I was blessed to have the property." Seed and fertilizer is often donated, as is equipment and labor. Brad and Kari Looman spent their 30th anniversary picking rock. David Peterson planted, and Dean Hendrickson combined and hauled the wheat. The work of FRB is possible through small contributions of many people. But there are big results around the world that mean a lot to the recipients. You can check out FRB at www.foodsresourcebank.org. If you would like to participate in the FRB program, and help in any way to end hunger, please call Lloyd Melvie. Author's note: After hearing of this story, and having about 5 acres of weeds myself, I enrolled in the program and should have a lovely field of hay next summer. This is truly a win-win-win program.