Two churches work to help hunger group
By Jeanne Millsap For The Herald-News October 12, 2012 12:30PM
Mazon resident Joann Waisath holds the green tomato pie that brought $450 in an auction for a Third World sustainable farming charity. | Jeanne Millsap ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2012 6:19AM
MAZON — Joann Waisath of Mazon seemed a little taken aback when her green tomato pie brought a staggering $450 in a charity pie auction on Sunday.
Last year, her mincemeat pie brought in a pretty good price, she said, but this one was the highest bid of the day.
“I’m amazed,” she said of the donation the pie brought. “It’s an old family recipe. It’s a great way to use green tomatoes out of the garden.”
The Dutch apple, lemon meringue, pecan, caramel pecan apple and cherry pound cake pies, among other varieties, were among the many ways the Park Street Congregational United Church of Christ in Mazon and the First Congregational Church of Western Springs raised money for their annual donation to the Foods Resource Bank, which is a Christian world hunger relief organization.
The main event was the harvest of the corn crop, planted last spring with seed donated from both churches and other sources on land provided by Mazon farmers. Farmers donated their time and their combines, as did truckers to haul away the loads of corn.
The two congregations came together on the Gantzert farm north of Mazon for an outdoor worship service, followed by a picnic lunch, the pie auction, then the official harvest of the crop.
The city kids seemed to enjoy riding in the combines the best. They waited in lines to climb the ladders up to a thrill they won’t soon forget. At least six combines rumbled through the fields simultaneously, with chaff flying throughout the air.
This is the 11th year the churches have joined forces for the mission. It’s only the second for the pie auction.
Marv Baldwin, member of the Western Springs church and president of the Foods Resource Bank, said the mission is one shared by more than just Mazon and Western Springs.
“We have 219 United States growing projects like this one, with more than 600 churches involved,” he said. “It’s a grass-roots mission. The farmers give their land and put in their resources to raise money Western Springs members raise money to purchase seed and other input or donations.”
The John Deere Foundation also donates to the mission. The project, Baldwin said, is not about giving food to needy families. It’s about giving things and education and resources to help farms in Third World countries become sustainable.
Dollars raised by the Mazon/Western Springs group have been used by the Foods Resource Bank for such projects as educating African farmers, constructing wells, and building a concrete grain storage site so the farmers can store their grain in a location more suitable than just on the ground.
Kris Harford is one of the Mazon farmers who harvested. He donated his John Deere 9660 combine and a semi-truck for the event. Harford has been involved in the mission for years, even traveling to Africa twice to learn about the problems farmers there have and to offer his help.
“They are dealing with everything from famine to clean water issues and political issues,” he said.
Harford also enjoys the Mazon-Western Springs fall harvests. It not only raises dollars for Third World sustainable farming, he said, but it introduces urban Illinois neighbors to agriculture. Connecting with others in the city and as far away as Africa is powerful, he said.
“It gives us common ground.”