Farmers helping farmers at Harvest of Hope benefits
Growers will donate 10 percent of sales to emergency fund
Foods and gifts you buy this winter can help farm families through a crisis. Small family farm producers are planning benefit sales for the Harvest of Hope emergency fund in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.
Woolen goods, farmstead milk soap, cheeses, preserves, honey and meats will all be sold at these benefit sales. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to the Harvest of Hope Fund. Vendors will sell what they, neighbors or small farm cooperatives make or grow from natural and sustainable practices.
The sales are open to people of all faiths and the general public.
“This is part of an effort with Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Quaker and Unitarian support. We’re spreading it into Iowa and Illinois, as well as across Wisconsin,” said Tony Ends, director of Churches’ Center for Land and People.
“We’re trying to connect urban and suburban consumers with farmers through the church. This helps people of faith practice stewardship of the earth through what they buy and how they eat. It fulfills basic expectations of all faiths to support economic justice, ecological practices and community,” said Ends, who also farms crops and livestock on a small scale near Brodhead, Wis.
When farmers connect directly to people who buy their products, they receive higher returns for their goods. They can thus farm at smaller scales of production and in ways that strengthen their rural neighborhoods, Ends said.
Consumer support for farmers in these benefit sales.
To help replenish the crisis fund. Madison’s Christian community created Harvest of Hope Fund to help farm families get through tough times. It has provided more than 1,075 gifts totaling $610,000 to Wisconsin farm families since 1986. New chapters of the fund are being organized in Iowa and Illinois, and 100% of donations to the fund are given to farmers in need.
Churches’ Center for Land and People was also organized during the 1980s farm crisis. It is a licensed non-profit program based at the Saint Benedict Center in Middleton, Wis. CCLP began holding these winter farmer’s market benefits in December 2003 in Madison and Milwaukee. United Methodist, Lutheran and Unitarian churches have since held sales in Illinois and Wisconsin. Grants from the Sisters of Charity (Dubuque) and Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (La Crosse) will likely help expand sales across Iowa and Wisconsin, with at least 6 denominations participating. We hope to hold 35 winter farmer's market benefit sales in winter 2005-2006.
“We’re looking for other churches to host these sales for Harvest of Hope and our farmers. We’d like to hold them on a regular basis between the first of November and end of March each year,” Ends said. “Those are the months farmers typically have nowhere to connect with consumers until seasonal, outdoor markets resume operation.
“There’s a wide range of value-added products farmers can make or have made quality and care, then sell the goods year-round. We’ve had some excellent apple and pear butter, sorghum, maple syrup, baking flour, wool mittens and hats, even dog beds, and other goods – all with family farms or cooperative names on the labels at these sales,” Ends said. “We invite the public to taste and see that the work of those who serve our Earth is very good.”