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LDS Church News

Welfare crop farms feeding hungry people

Published: Saturday, July 26 2014 12:05 a.m. MDT

A daily schedule and a little farm humor can be found in the office of the Magna Utah Welfare Crops Farms.

Jason Swensen

MAGNA, UTAH

Volunteers at the Church’s Magna Utah Crops Welfare Farm follow a few guidelines during their assigned work shifts.

First, stay hydrated. The July sun can get hot — even during the early morning shifts. Second, the farm is home to some grumpy honeybees. Farm policy: Let the bees be. And third, if you’re working along the west-end fence line, stay mindful of Rascal the dog. He likes to sneak up on unsuspecting volunteers and startle them with his high-pitched yelp.

Beyond that, volunteering at the Magna farm — or any of the Church’s several welfare crop farms in Utah — is fairly simple: Arrive on time and ready to work — and then enjoy knowing you’re helping feed folks in need.

It’s harvest season in Utah, and LDS welfare farms are once again in full bloom and blessing the lives of countless people. Almost every day during July, crates of tomatoes, squash, cabbage, beans, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables harvested at the farms are shipped directly to the bishops’ storehouse. The produce is on the tables of families in need within hours of being picked.

Elder Lou Chase, a welfare missionary who manages the Magna farm, said volunteers are the “gas” that fuels the labor-intensive operation.

“We let the volunteers know that their work is blessing lives and feeding people,” he said.

This year, there are more tomatoes being harvested than the storehouse can handle. But nothing goes to waste. Any surplus is trucked to local food banks to, again, help feed families in need.

Most of the farms work with neighboring stakes in gathering volunteers. The workers don’t need to bring any special farming equipment besides their own hands and a strong back. Everything else is provided.

“The farms also provide great opportunities for people who are receiving Church assistance to serve and give back,” said Church welfare horticulturist Wade Sperry.

The most popular item grown at the farms?

“Without a doubt,” said Elder Chase, “everyone loves our cantaloupes.”

jswensen@deseretnews.com