HAZEN, N.D. – With the sun peeking out of the clouds after some rain showers over the April 21-22 weekend and the ground drying out, Farm Rescue volunteers were finally able to finish seeding at one of their first farm locations for the 2012 season.
Farm Rescue, an all-volunteer organization, seeds and harvests for farmers struck by illness, disability or natural disaster.
While that date seems late for this unusually warm spring, Farm Rescue actually has three planting systems seeding in different locations for the first time ever this year. Two of those systems had already begun seeding before the volunteers arrived in Hazen in west central North Dakota.
RDO Equipment has donated the use of two 60-foot John Deere air seeders and a 24-foot John Deere corn and soybean planter, along with three tractors and carts for the 2012 planting season, according to Rita Jarrett at Farm Rescue.
Jarrett said the corn planter was already at its third location in Minnesota. Volunteers have finished planting corn in Clarksfield, Madison and Ulen, Minn., and were headed to Aneta, N.D., on April 19.
“We had a lot of applications for help from corn farmers, and in the past we had to turn them away. This year, we’re able to help seed corn thanks to the corn planter from RDO,” Jarrett said.
Volunteers with the second planting system started in Java, S.D., seeding wheat and then went to Driscoll, N.D., to plant barley, and then on to Glenfield, N.D., to seed spring wheat. They were heading to Edmore, N.D., to plant wheat and canola on April 19, Jarrett said.
The first air seeder started in Robinson, N.D., then went on to Hazen, N.D. When volunteers finish in Hazen, they will head to Carson and Flasher, N.D., to seed wheat. After that, they will go down to South Dakota.
Jarrett said there were no applications from Montana farmers for this year.
Injuries and disabilities to producers receiving assistance from Farm Rescue this year ranged from car and four-wheeler accidents, to a farmer who broke a leg when he fell from a sprayer, to several incidences of cancer.
“We have from 25-30 volunteers helping this year,” Jarrett said. “In addition, some local businesses will bring out food, fuel or offer lodging facilities to the volunteers.”
Volunteers are mainly from North Dakota, but some come from other parts of the country and spend vacation time to help seed or harvest crops for farmers in need.
Many have been with Farm Rescue for a couple of years, but some like Warren Zakopyko, Gene Spitchke and Charlie Bartsch, all from an area around Minot, N.D., have been long-time volunteers with the organization.
Farmers provide seed and fertilizer, and help with the planting as much as they are able. In addition, relatives often fix lunch or dinner for the volunteers.
Farm Rescue, which was founded in 2005 by Bill Gross, a UPS pilot who grew up in Cleveland, N.D., has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since.
Jarrett said any farmer who still needs help with seeding and who is located along the Farm Rescue’s planned route can still apply for help by going to www. farmrescue.org or calling 1-701-252-2017.