Harvest for Hunger – A Once in a Lifetime Experience

EXPERIENCING THE HARVEST FROM THE COMBINE – THE EXCITEMENT OF THE WORLD RECORD BREAKING CHALLENGE

The big event
On October 5th over 3500 farmers and spectators gathered in Monkton, Ontario to attempt a world record soybean harvest. The goal was to harvest 160 acres of soybeans in less than 10 minutes, setting a world record for the fastest harvest.
Over 120 farmers brought combines to the event and harvested the acres in an incredible time of 11 minutes and 43.59 seconds. They didn’t achieve the record for the fastest overall harvest (Manitoba did 160 acres of swathed wheat in 11 minutes and 8 seconds), but they did set the standard for the fastest soybean harvest.
The event was organized by local Christian farmers and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to increase awareness about hunger issues around the world and to raise funds to help feed hungry people in developing countries. The event exceeded their goal of $200,000 through donations and the sale of the harvested soybeans. All funds raised were matched 4 to 1 by the Canadian International Development Agency. To learn more about the Canadian Foodgrains Bank visit www.foodgrainsbank.ca.

View from the stands
My colleague positioned herself in one of the many bleachers set up to observe the event. From her viewpoint she could see all 120 combines – 60 on the north side of the plot and 60 on the south side of the plot. When the combines started rolling the scene was like something from a sci-fi movie. Roaring engines and giant machines emerging from a dusty haze heading straight towards each other as if entering an epic battle. Combines of every color took turns reaching their finish point and as each one arrived the crowd cheered and applauded. It was 12 minutes that many will remember for a lifetime. Overheard in the stands were two older gentlemen – “this is a once in a lifetime experience”. “Yep, I can cross it off my bucket list”.


View from the combine

I got the privilege of riding inside one of the combines during the event. Wade Gibson, a farmer from Listowel, was kind enough to let me sit on his buddy seat in his nearly new John Deere combine. He tuned the radio to AM 920 and, as we waited for the call to start harvesting, you could feel the anxiety building. Wade confessed to me that he was a little nervous, not wanting to make an error.
 
I can hardly explain the excitement that came next when the radio announcer said “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go”. The growl of the engines and the power of the machines was invigorating. Only a few minutes in, we could see the approaching combines from the north side of the field. For me, this was the most amazing sight. Imagine 60 combines driving straight toward you – wow!
All the drivers were instructed to set their speed at 3.5 miles per hour, but Wade informed me near the end of our strip we were doing 5 miles per hour. It seems that everyone got excited and it quickly became a race to beat the record time.
As we approached the split (where we stopped) I was energized and had my eye on the clock trying to figure out if we beat the record but I also felt a little sad that this event was now over. As much as we all wanted it to happen fast, I think we also wanted the experience to last a little longer. The teamwork, the support, the pride – now that’s farming!

 

About Meghan Burke 17 Articles
Manager, Communications, Grain Farmers of Ontario