Along the Trans-Canada Highway stands a sea of sunflowers, a place where Manitobans can go to take selfies, all for a good cause.
The flowers are located near MacGregor, Man. and if people want to take pictures, all they have to do is donate, with money raised going to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
This is one of several fundraisers being put on by FOCUS (Feed Other Countries, Undo Starvation), a collective of farmers and volunteers between Austin and Elie who work to raise money for the foodgrains bank.
“Altogether we look after about 400 acres that gets donated,” says Dean Toews, FOCUS chairperson. “Of those fields, some of them, farms look after, some of them, our board look after, and then the harvest proceeds go toward Canadian Foodgrains Bank.”
Last year was the first time Toews had run the sunflower selfie fundraiser, the success of which inspired him to do it again.
“We raised $2,000 just in cash donations on the field,” he says. “There would have been some online donations as well. And then the proceeds from the crop worked out to about $20,000.”
The FOCUS growing project as a whole raised approximately $200,000 across their 400 acres last year.
“It was a really neat idea that is new to the variety of growing projects across the country,” says Julie Derksen, the supporter relations manager of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. “And it’s a really innovative idea where people are stopping and they’re learning something new about us, about the FOCUS growing project, and about our collective mission to end hunger.”
Toews has made changes this year to enhance the experience over last year. “We have a trail system that we worked into the fields so people can walk into the crops,” he says. “There’s areas in there for even if a group wants to take pictures in there. We have spaces inside the crops so you can be surrounded 360 degrees by sunflowers, and stay as long as you like.”
Toews predicts the fundraiser will run for approximately three weeks as long as weather conditions remain ideal.
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