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Volunteers harvest corn for food bank

Cameron McNear, 14, picks corn in a field owned by Jeremy and Sarah Wilson Tuesday. Volunteers filled boxes mounted on pallets for shipping to the Great Plains Food Pantry in Fargo. Great Plains will distribute the corn to food pantries around North Dakota and in Clay County, Minnesota. Keith Norman / The Sun

Volunteers harvested an estimated 7,000 pounds of sweet corn Tuesday from a Sydney Township farm field to donate to Great Plains Food Bank for distribution around the region.

Jeremy Wilson, who owns the farm with his wife, Sarah, said this was the second year they had donated corn to the food bank.  The corn represented the production of about 2 acres.

 “It goes to Fargo and is divvied up into smaller lots and distributed to food pantries in North Dakota and Clay County of Minnesota,” he said. “It ends up helping a lot of people.”

Steve Sellent, director of Great Plains Food Bank, said locally-raised, fresh foods are important to the food pantry program.

“Donations like this are incredibly important,” he said. “Fresh produce is always difficult for families that are struggling to put on the plate.”

The volunteers filled large boxes attached to pallets, which were then moved by a skid-steer loader to a trailer. Wilson said having 28 volunteers made the work go quickly.

“We’re glad to help,” said Warren Tobin, one of the volunteers. “It all goes for a good cause.”

Wilson said the small plot of sweet corn had been planted within a larger field of commercial field corn.

“We put it in the middle of a corn field to insulate it from the deer and raccoons,” he said. “It reduces the weeds in the sweet corn, too.”

The field is located in Sydney Township about 14 miles southwest of Jamestown. Although the sweet corn stalks are about 1 foot shorter than the surrounding field corn, the corn plants look nearly identical.

Monsanto provided the sweet corn seed through its Grow Forward project that helps farmers provide services to the community. Wilson said additional support and harvest volunteers came from Entzminger Dairy, Country Grain Cooperative, Corell Farms, Mainline Agronomy and Helena Chemical Co., as well as their friends, neighbors and members of New Hope Free Lutheran Church.

Wilson said about 30 percent of the ears in the sweet corn plot were ready to harvest. The Wilson family and additional volunteers may harvest more corn from this plot and another later-planted plot, later this week.

Sarah Wilson said the next harvest of corn would be sold at multiple locations around Jamestown as a fundraiser for Cornerstone Christian Academy. Cornerstone is a planned elementary school expansion to the Victory Christian Pre-Kindergarten program currently offered.

“It has been a great experience to do this,” Sarah Wilson said. “The people at Great Plains are so good to work with. It would be fun to see even more farms raise produce to do this.”

Sellent said the food bank has a number of small-scale producers who dedicate a row or two of garden production to the food bank.

“We’re fortunate to have several farmers that provide large donations,” he said. “We’ve received potatoes, onions, even carrots in large donations.”

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at