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Soybean field harvested for charity

Jim Schmidt stands next to his combine.
Jim Schmidt stands next to his combine.

Representatives from three churches and the Foods Resource Bank gathered in Polo Saturday to watch a field harvested for charity.

Forty acres of soybeans were harvested with the proceeds from the sale of the beans donated to the Foods Resource Bank (FRB).

The Sustainable Food Project is sponsored by the Polo Church of the Brethren, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Elgin, and Faith United Presbyterian Church, Tinley Park.

In the five years Polo has been involved in the food project, $95,000 has been raised for FRB.  The total for the sixth year will be announced after the beans are processed and sold.

At the Polo Church of the Brethren, the members of the churches had the opportunity to socialize and enjoy a meal before learning more about the Foods Resource Bank and why the food project is important.

A new video, “Sowing Seeds... Harvesting Hope” was shown.

The video was hosted by Orien Samuelson.

“Samuelson was very gracious with this video,” said Jay Wittmeyer, the Church of the Brethren Executive Director of Global Mission Partnerships.  “We appreciate his involvement with FRB.

Gene Schmidt, the Polo coordinator for the project, FRB  president Marv Baldwin, and  Wittmeyer shared information about the food needs around the world.

“This could not happen without the support from each church,” said Wittmeyer.

“We appreciate the churches working together,” said Schmidt.

During the video, a woman from Guatemala was featured.

The woman, Olga,  was shown growing herbs and vegetables in used tires.  The next growing season she had a small greenhouse.

“By helping her build a greenhouse, she is now able to grow earlier which allows her to bring her food to market earlier,” said Wittmeyer.  “She can also sell later in the year.  The greenhouse allows her to sell when the price of her goods are higher.”

Wittmeyer, who was in Guatemala during the filming of the video, said the men were initially not happy that the women were being empowered.

“Olga’s husband only gave her one tire to begin with.  When he saw the success, he was willing to have greenhouses built,” said Wittmeyer.

On another mission trip to Ethiopia, Baldwin recalled seeing kids carry new desks to school.

“We were in Ethiopia hiking down a steep road,” said Baldwin.  “We saw school kids carrying new desks up hill.  It was a three or four mile hike to the school.”

After learning about the project, everyone left the church and drove south of Polo to the soybean field.

At the field, Jim Schmidt, Polo, offered combine rides to allow everyone to see how the fields are harvested.

The rides provided a view of the field that many church members have not seen.

To learn more about FRB, or to apply to go on one of their mission trips visit their website at

Grant money from John Deere is available to help offset the costs of the trip.

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