The first Thanksgiving, celebrated in Plymouth, Mass., marks an important milestone for American agriculture. It was a time when people gathered together to share the bounty of the land and to celebrate their new-found sense of community and life in America.
While much has changed since that first Thanksgiving, the sense of community and appreciation for agricultural production are still integral components of the holiday. And because of farmers, both of those ideals are still upheld.
The America’s Farmers Grow Communities program – an initiative made possible by the Monsanto Fund – celebrates Idaho farmers that feed, clothe and grow their communities everyday.
This program allows farmers to give back to those organizations that they value most with the opportunity to direct $2,500 to their favorite local nonprofit organization, like the local FFA chapter, library, fire department or elementary school. Now, with the expansion of Grow Communities, Idaho farmers in four counties have until December 31, 2010 to enroll and potentially impact their hometowns in a monumental way.
Nearly $1.2 million dollars already has been donated in 10 states through two pilot programs, impacting a variety of rural community programs like a small town school in California.
“Hanford is a farming community,” said Al Kosters, administrator at Hanford Christian School. “The farmers are the most important driver of the entire local economy. It is good for an area like Hanford to be reminded of the contributions of its farmers to the larger community. That reality is not recognized nearly often enough.”
Youth agricultural programs like 4-H and FFA also were common recipients and received more than $432,000 in donations. And, another roughly $430,000 was contributed to much needed improvements in community emergency services, community groups and health care initiatives.
Aside from the local organization selected to win the $2,500 benefitting, the local United Way chapters will receive a $1 donation from the Monsanto Fund with each farmer sign up, providing yet another opportunity for farmers to make a difference in their communities, just by signing up.
Farmers can apply online at www.growcommunities.com or by calling 1.877.267.3332. Farmers, age 21 and over, who are actively engaged in farming a minimum of 250 acres of corn, soybeans and/or cotton, or 40 acres of open field vegetables, or at least 10 acres of tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers grown in protected culture, are eligible.
The program is open to qualifying farmers, and no purchase is necessary in order to enter or win. In Idaho, one winner will be drawn from each of the state’s four participating counties. Monsanto Fund will announce winning farmers and recipient organizations in February 2011.
Eligible counties in Idaho include Canyon, Gooding, Jerome and Twin Falls. PD
—From Monsanto news release