Field of Hope: Area acreage planted to help families half a world away
FARGO - A 99-acre field of sweet corn and soybeans is being grown south of here to help families on the other side of the word.
Kyle and Kathy Freier of Kindred went on a mission trip in January to Ethiopia. On the way back, the group they traveled with started talking about ways they could help some of the people they had met.
One of the ideas, Kyle Freier said, was to sell sweet corn and use the profits to help people in Ethiopia through sponsorships as well as farming and micro-business start-up funds.
“Our last couple of trips have been focusing on ways to help these families help themselves,” Freier said. “Creating a dependency doesn’t do any good.”
The group helped women who had been making jewelry purchase looms so they could make blankets and scarves. They’ve also helped families start small farming operations.
“We’ve been given much, and we’re able to help and we want to help,” Freier said.
Property Resources Group, where Kyle Freier works, donated the use of the land, which is planned for future development, and Monsanto donated the seed.
Freier contacted friends, Brett and Heidi Odegaard, who farm near Hickson. Brett and his brother, Tyler Odegaard, agreed to volunteer to farm the land. They planted sweet corn on five acres and soybeans on the rest.
The Odegaards will sell the soybeans through regular means, but once it’s ready in a few weeks, they will sell the sweet corn in “harvest-your-own-produce”-type events.
“We feel that people coming out to pick the corn is just a neat experience,” Heidi Odegaard said.
“It’s worked out that this is a farming region and we’re using agriculture to help,” Brett Odegaard said.
The project, called “Field of Hope,” is a collaboration between Project 1:17 and Project Give Five.
Project 1:17, based on the Bible verse Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow,” is a group the Freiers helped start to encourage foster care, adoption and orphan care.
The Odegaards started Project Give Five, a nonprofit organization that encourages people to give $5 a month to help others in need. Their primary project for this year is helping the people of Korah, a community of more than 120,000 people who are impoverished and have diseases like leprosy and HIV and who sift through trash dumps for food to eat and recyclables to sell, Heidi Odegaard said. Part of the money raised through the Field of Hope project with help the people of Korah.
Both the Freiers and the Odegaards have personal ties to Ethiopia.
The Freiers adopted their 9-year-old daughter from Ethiopia five years ago. They’ve been back a few times since then on mission trips to work with families and orphaned children. They work with Covenant Development Association, an Ethiopian church group that works to help orphans, families, and neglected senior citizens in Ethiopia.
“Just because we adopted didn’t mean we were done helping,” Freier said.
The Odegaards have two adolescent boys, currently on student visas from Ethiopia, they are working to adopt. One of their daughters met the boys on a mission trip last July and felt that they should join her family, Heidi Odegaard said.
“She just came back and her heart had changed,” she said. “She wanted to go back immediately and serve as a mission worker.”
The Odegaards then decided to visit the area themselves.
“We had planned a trip to go to Jamaica on a family vacation, but we nixed that and we went to Ethiopia in December on a mission trip,” Odegaard said.
She and her daughter went back a few months later and brought the boys home.
“They’re wonderful boys and they deserve an opportunity for a good education and a family,” Heidi Odegaard said.
They started project Give Five in their honor.
“We’re so blessed and we need to use our blessings to help others,” she said.
The Field of Hope is located at 100th Ave. S. in the northwest quadrant of I-29 and Cass Co. 14. When the corn is ready to be picked, it will be announced at www.project117nd.org and www.projectgivefive.com . For more information or to help, contact the Freiers at (701) 361-2241 or the Odegaards at (701) 261-0695.
Though the location will change, they plan to make the Field of Hope an annual event.