The Harvest for Hope’s first season at a new location came to a successful end on Aug. 30, when farmers helped to gather a crop of green lentils in support of Rock Solid Refuge.
This annual crop fundraiser has become an important source of income for the non-profit organization during the previous six years.
For Rock Solid Refuge Executive Director Dallas Block the harvesting of the crop is always a joyful day.
“It's been a great day already as the crop comes off for our seventh annual Harvest for Hope here for Rock Solid Refuge,” he said while the combines were out in the field. “We're just really excited again this year with all the participation from farmers and from companies and organizations that really want to see funds raised for the work that Rock Solid Refuge does.”
Farmers and their families enjoyed a burger lunch before the start of the harvest, and Block said it was great to feel the camaraderie and the support for the project in the area.
“We found that southwest Saskatchewan just is a real generous pocket of people on all levels,” he mentioned.
There were five combines out on the land during the harvest, and farmers brought four trucks and a grain cart to get the crop off.
This crop fundraiser was previously located on 120 acres of land next to Highway No. 4 south of Swift Current that was owned by Wendell and Wendy Patzer, but they sold the land after last year’s harvest. The Sogn Family Foundation in Shaunavon decided to purchase 160 acres of land near Rhineland and to make it available to the Harvest for Hope initiative.
“The farmers that have been involved really wanted the project to keep going, and so the Sogn Foundation made the decision to purchase the land for that purpose,” Block said.
This crop fundraiser has become an important source of income for Rock Solid Refuge and there was some concern over the future of the initiative before the new land became available.
“It's an important project and so we wondered,” he said. “The land sold and then pretty much at the same time, I heard rumour that this might happen. We're a faith organization. So we prayed and we were hoping that this would be able to come through and it did, and we continue to be very blessed by it.”
The new site will provide the project with certainty for the future, and it will also benefit from the larger size of the land.
“It's been one of our most important fundraisers of the year where a pretty good chunk of money comes in at one time, and really that's going to actually increase significantly with it being a full quarter section,” he said. “There's actually a few less expenses here as well, and so we're really excited. It's been a great benefit to us.”
The first crop on this land was a success with a yield of 32 bushels per acre on the green lentils.
“The heavy rains in June made a little bit of it flooded out and so not the best yield right next to the road,” he noted.
The funds raised from this harvest will assist the activities at the Rock Solid Refuge campus on a 60 acre property northeast of Shaunavon.
Rock Solid Refuge offers a 12-month residential program for male youth between the ages of 13 and 18 who are struggling with life controlling issues such as addictions and behavioural challenges.
“Over the last year we had an average of eight to 10 students at any given time, and it will be probably about seven to eight students over this winter that we'll have in the program,” he noted. “They're coming to us from lots of different areas, as far away as Ottawa actually. Most of them though in the prairie provinces that are with us right now.”