family farming

Catholic Farmers Make an Impact on Global Level

The following article, written by Shannon Philpott-Sanders, is shared with permission from "The Belleview Messenger," a Catholic newspaper for the Diocese of Belleview, IL.

When Fran Etter and her son Max had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador with Friends Across Borders in 2013, she didn’t know just how much the trip would impact her family.

“I was looking for more of a way to make an impact on a global level,” said Etter. “Having seen how our farming practices impact the world, I think that we have a duty to help.”

Mark and Fran Etter, parishioners at St. Felicitas in Beaver Prairie, found a way to make an impact at home.

The couple has set aside a section of their acreage for the Catholic Relief Services-partnered Foods Resource Bank and have enlisted the help of their farming neighbors Jim and Katie Buehne of St. Rose to do the same.

Etter was contacted by a Foods Resource Bank representative and she decided to look at the rural angle of global solidarity. This wasn’t her first experience with FRB, though. “I was introduced to FRB when I was a part of the Just Faith Program with partner parishes of the diocese,” she said. “I realized there are many issues globally we should be concerned about.”
“I like the idea of being involved in rural life,” said Etter. “My husband is a farmer and this is something he can be involved in, too.”

The Foods Resource Bank sponsors more than 200 U.S. growing projects, companies, organizations and volunteers to help people in developing countries grow their own food. The Etters and the Buehnes make an annual contribution of an acreage of profits each year to Catholic Relief Services, which is then funneled to the Foods Resource Bank program.

“We don’t have an official group at the moment, but I would like to encourage other farmers to get involved,” said Etter. “It takes a lot of individuals to grow this type of program, but if people spread the word, parishes and individuals may get on board to host fundraisers or encourage farmers to earmark some of their acreage.”

Etter already has plans to spread the word about the needs of the Foods Resource Bank. She will be sharing her story at an informational meeting for farmers in the diocese Feb. 10 at St. Mary’s in Mt. Vernon. The brainstorming meeting, sponsored by CRS, will focus on the farmer to farmer program and features speakers such as Etter and ag specialists.

For Etter, a teacher at Belleville West High School, the farmer to farmer program is a part of her family’s life. “It’s important work to keep me grounded and it keeps me connected to the rural lifestyle of farmers.”

01/10/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Farming as a Family Business Brings Smiles

"I have a reason to smile,” says Shila, a 33-year old participant in FRB’s Uganda-Teso program. “My farm production has increased dramatically every year I’ve been involved. After receiving training in Conservation Agriculture (CA), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), vegetable growing, and participating in my farmer group and Village Savings and Loan (VSL) group, I have made it through this year’s challenges in spite of the drought. I am now a role model in our community.” 

Shila, her husband, and their 10 children are now “Farming as a Family Business,” and everyone is engaged in the production cycle at all levels. With timely planting, mulching, crop rotation and other CA practices, they earned 4,200,000 Shillings ($1,200) from selling beans and maize. They used part of the money for baking bricks and purchasing cement to build a permanent house. Says Shila, “Our plan is to finish the house next year, save for next year’s farming, and continue paying school fees for all of our children.”

Julius, 24, is married, with a baby girl. He and his Village Savings Loan group began saving money in 2014, and he recently had enough to buy a heifer. He says, “This year I was selected to serve as a Community Resource Person. I participated in many different training events so I could pass my learning on to my community.  My vision is to acquire land, since I inherited only two acres from our family land share.” In addition to helping others, Julius says, “I am championing my own development.”

Farming as a Family Business participants like Richard realize that farming is not just a lifestyle or a game but a long-term commitment to investing, planning, monitoring, reviewing and evaluating their farms for success. Richard says, “I have rented a simple treadle pump to help me during this dry spell. I want to make the most of this season. I have planted eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes and green pepper. I’m using small water reservoirs in the swamp for watering, and all the members of my household are carrying out tasks best suited to their abilities and preferences.”

Led by World Renew and local pattern Katakwi Integrated Development Organization (KIDO), FRB's Uganda Teso program encompasses 12 communities, 802 households and 4,812 individuals.

03/31/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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