Tapping the blend of collaboration and competition unique to their vocation, young farmers from almost a dozen western Michigan counties raised $6,000 at a recent golf outing — and donated it to food banks across the region.
Almost 50 members active in Michigan Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Program faced off recently at Waters Edge Golf Course in Fremont, representing the organization’s District 4 (Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent and Ottawa counties) and District 7 (Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola counties). The young farmers raised funds through sponsorships, as well as their own donations, to play golf.
Before teeing it up, both groups also took part in district-level discussion meets, pitting members’ public speaking skills and industry knowledge against each other in a competition format that’s been a hallmark of the Young Farmer program for more than half a century.
All funds raised for the event were split between the two districts for distribution to local food pantries.
District 4 donated its $3,000 to Coopersville Cares, while District 7 split its $3,000 take between the Sears Food Pantry (Osceola County), God’s Helping Hands (Mecosta), Bread of Life (Oceana), Lakeview Ministerial Association (Montcalm), St. Thomas Parish (Muskegon) and True North (Newaygo).
“I think we were all questioning whether we’d have an opportunity like this under the current circumstances, but we got creative and pulled off a great event,” says Mike McKeown, who represents District 4 on Michigan Farm Bureau's State Young Farmer Committee. “It was great to see our young farmers come together to discuss issues and enjoy a round of golf with friends — all while raising money for a good cause.”
Adam Dietrich, a Conklin-area apple grower who chairs the State Young Farmer Committee, adds, “It was tremendous to bring district Young Farmer groups together safely and work with some great sponsors for a fun day on the golf course. I was thrilled we had great discussions and raised $6,000 through Harvest for All — an effort that feels particularly important this year with everything happening.”
Harvest For All is a cooperative effort with Michigan Farm Bureau, the Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Michigan Agricultural Surplus System to encourage MFB members to help fight hunger in Michigan.
A long roster of sponsors helped underwrite the event: AgVenture Simplot of Michigan; Michigan Farm Bureau Crop Insurance; Brevant Seeds; Dan Lee Agency Farm Bureau Insurance; MFB State Young Farmer Committee; GreenStone Farm Credit Services of Grand Rapids and Lakeview; Jaunese, Barkow and Barkow; MFB District 7 Director Michael DeRuiter; Vander Veen’s Napa Auto Parts of Six Lakes; Vita Plus – Garrett Slavik; Voelker Bros Equipment LLC; and the Barry, Kent, Newaygo, Oceana and Ottawa County Farm Bureaus.