MINNEDOSA, MB (January 4, 2010) – The Kernels of Hope program led by Covenanter Ray Baloun raised $326,000 in 2009 to feed thousands of Sudanese and train farmers there in sustainable agriculture techniques.
Kernels of Hope, which is operated on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada (ECCC), has raised more than $800,000 in relief and development funds for Africa since Baloun initiated the project in 2005.
Farmers donate their time to grow crops on a portion of their land set aside to be “purchased” by “virtual farmer” donors who pay the costs of rent, seed, chemicals, insurance, and custom work. When the crop is sold, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) matches the grain sales revenue on a four-to-one ratio to reach the final donation amount. That money is then distributed to the intended recipients through the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) and World Relief Canada (WRC).
Funds raised in 2009 will provide food to 4,500 people suffering hunger in Southern Sudan and help re-establish their homes, farms and lives, says Baloun, a member of the Minnedosa Evangelical Covenant Church. This year marks the beginning of a three-year partnership with Tearfund, a WRC partner.
Kernels for Hope farmers included several from Evangelical Covenant churches:
• Hans Andersen, who attends Rosebud Covenant Church in Rosebud, Alberta, was a virtual farmer last year, but will donate grain from his field this year
• Owen Westerlund and his father, Bruce, will plant 20 acres of Harvest wheat – they attended Hyas Covenant Church until it closed and now attend Norquay Covenant Church
• Slavek and Margaret Dasiuk, who attend College Park Covenant Church in Saskatoon, are returning for their second year and will farm 40 acres