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Michigan food bank gets a $25,000 seed donation
By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
Michigan Correspondent

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — NK® Brand has planted seeds of hope to help wipe out world hunger by pledging $25,000 in corn and soybean seed to Foods Resource Bank (FRB) of Kalamazoo for its 2006 growing season.

“We’re very blessed,” said FRB Executive Director Norm Braksick. The support, he said, will help FRB in its mission to teach people how to grow food to sustain themselves and eventually others. NK® Brand has worked with its dealer network to provide seed to FRB for the past three years.

“The agricultural industry has always fed the world. This project allows us to direct our resources to places where food assistance is most needed and to build hope,” said Marshall Kostiuk, corn marketing manager with NK® Brand. “It is an honor to work with growers, NK® Brand dealers and organizations like FRB that are dedicated to making a difference in reducing the plight of world hunger.”

FRB conducts growing projects both in the United States and overseas.

“We don’t ship any food,” Braksick said. “Our niche is to allow people in the developing worlds to experience the dignity and pride in feeding themselves.”

Braksick said many of the organization’s overseas projects start with partnering with a religious denomination as an “implementing partner.”

From there he said a primary concern is to identify a water source, which often includes digging a well. Then, volunteers - often missionaries - work with villagers to teach them how to raise vegetables and small animals such as goats or rabbits.

“We are able to provide means for villagers to grow their own food and feed their own families,” he said.

Overall, Braksick said FRB will implement projects in more than 200 communities this year, utilizing about 7,000 acres of farmland.

Primary crops include corn, wheat and soybeans. Braksick said the organization also has a cattle-feeding project, a dairy project and greenhouse project in the United States.

“We implement unconditionally. Whoever needs food and is interested in growing their own food can participate,” he said.

Braksick is quick to laud agribusinesses for its support.

“With the generous help from agribusinesses, like NK® Brand, that donate seed and growers who donate their land and time, FRB was able to send $1.6 million in crop income to support 500,000 beneficiaries in developing countries in 2005,” he said. “We are implementing a sustainable food program for about $5.35 per person per year.”

In the United States, FRB supports farm community growing projects. Braksick said a project typically starts with a community leadership group such as a church, which would identify a location for the growing project and coordinate volunteers.

“Farmers donate their land, equipment, time and their farming expertise. If you ask for a $1,000 donation, it may be tough,” he said, “but he’ll turn around and harvest the crop with a $250,000 machine.”

This year, Braksick said about 90 percent of FRB’s seed has been donated by companies such as NK® Brand. In addition, “much of the insecticides and herbicides have been donated.”

FRB does purchase some fertilizer and is helping farmers cover fuel costs.

Outside funding sources would typically include a local group getting sponsorships to support an acre of land for a donation of $100 to $200 per acre.

In the end, Braksick said the project brings rural and urban cultures together for a good cause.

“Groups often do a harvest dinner and then go out and harvest the field in the afternoon,” he said. “There’s a lot of pent up farm nostalgia in these churches. You’ll have city folks up in a combine (and) farmers love it. They have a chance to tell their story.”

For additional details about FRB, visit www.foodresourcebank.com

This farm news was published in the May 24, 2006 issue of Farm World.

5/24/2006