Pease farmers teach Guatemalans 'how to fish'

By Tom Kiel

I’m sure most of you have heard the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you feed him for life.”

With that in mind, a few farmers from the Pease Christian Reformed Church were challenged by the Foods Resource Bank to help teach and feed the hungry of the world. A person might ask yourself, how can a few farmers from a small area like Pease make a difference in a world where millions of people go to bed hungry? You would think that would be a task so overwhelming that many would give up before even starting.

The Foods Resource Bank (FRB) is a non-profit organization that is Christian based. Its response to world hunger is by raising resources to support the capability and desire of small farmers in developing countries. All the programs focus on developing small-holder agriculture, often in the most extreme and poorest regions of the world.  The FRB sees agriculture as the solution to hunger experienced in much of the world. To read more about the FRB go to

Alan Byker of Pease was given a vison and then got a group of five farmers organized to support the FRB. They decided to call their growing project “The Bread of Life.” You may see a few signs up in fields if you are driving through the country, designating these fields as Bread of Life fields.

Byker, Kevin Santema, Dan Minks, Don Kiel and Kevin Koppendrayer started the first growing season in 2000. Today, Jeff Hanenburg has joined the team and each year they plant approximately 210 acres of corn and soybeans. The team of farmers works with seed and fertilizer companies, local farmers and local co-ops to get reduced costs. An offering is taken each year at the Pease Christian Reformed Church and one at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Edina to help off-set planting and harvesting costs of crops.

The team is the first to admit, this could not be done without the help of other local farmers such as Duane Bekius, Jim Vedders, Jerry Baas, Morris Droogsma, Steve Bemis, Al Bekius, David Trunk, Josh Holcolmbe, Brian Smelter, Burton Bartz, Curt Hanenburg, John Santema, Harlan Hanenburg and business sponsors like Federated Co-op, Timmer Implement, Centra-Sota, Mycogen Seed, Pioneer Seed and many others who have all donated labor, along with equipment needed to get the job done.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Nov. 8 print edition of the Times.