A Harvest In A Time Of Drought

For the past months, we've been showing you the drought ravaged corn fields in the north. It's devastating for farmers who stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the drought. The drought affected farmers in the west as well but it didn't hit them as hard. And they ended up with enough to give away to a worthy cause, the Harvest for Kids Initiative. Courtney went west on Saturday to see 10 combines in concert:

Courtney Weatherburne
"Usually the Spanish Lookout farmers would be harvesting these 40 acres of corn for sale. But today's harvest isn't about short term profit. It's about a long term investment involving urban kids in agriculture."

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
80 kids and their parents poured into Central Farm on Saturday afternoon for the corn harvest. For most of these city kids,

This swathe of corn stalks swaying beneath the lush hills of the west. And these monstrous machines lined side by side like war tanks in a battle, is an unfamiliar scene.

But this visit to Central Farm isn't just a field trip or an exhibit, it's a chance for the kids to learn about harvesting.

Alexander Perez, Director, Harvest for kids
"One of the things that inspired me, growing up in Belize, I grew up without parents and one day I change my whole career from business to children."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Did you have anu idea before coming here about harvesting?"

Cory Moriera, Grace Primary School
"No ma'am. I thought that you would just pick up the corn with your hands. But when I saw the machines I started to get a picture in my mind that they use the machines to deal with the corn."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Nine combines just like this one all at once. It's a symphony of machinery and combustion, but more than just a unified display at machine power, is the only way to harvest 40 acres of corn in just about 45 minutes."

45 minutes of threshing and winnowing as the combines rake the field.

Partially concealed by the stalks, the combines dredge and clear the entire field.

And then the kernels of corn are dumped into these containers. But, what will be done with all this corn?

Alexander Perez, Director, Harvest for kids
"The proceeds will go directly to Belize Camping Experience. So whatever harvest will go for next year summer camps which is really awesome because when you see these crops being lift up off the ground, you know that we are going to have camps for Belize Camping Experience - for all the kids in the city."

Josee Gongora, Belize Camping Experience
"At Belize Camping Experience, we are busy throughout the year. Like right now we are visiting 7 schools; 5 schools in the city and two schools; one in Hattieville and one in Orange Walk. We visit them, we have time with the kids half an hour or more, depending what the principal gives us and during summer time we have the high priorities where we have two months of summer camps with kids in the city and all around. So all the proceeds goes for the kids."

And the kids are definitely making the best out of this experience.

Cory Moriera, Grace Primary School
"It was awesome. I got to ride in the vehicle. I got to see how they deal with corn and stuff and how they harvest. It was great."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Is this your first year here?"

Sofia Nunez, Belize City Resident
"Yes it is."

Courtney Weatherburne
"How is it so far?"

Sofia Nunez, Belize City Resident
"It was awesome. We got to ride the machines and we saw how they break up the corns and stuff."

Joana Colindres, Belize City Resident
"It's important because you have to learn how to do things and it might help you how to do better things in life when you grow older and how to be a farmer."

Lythia Rhaburn, Teacher, Queen Street Baptist School
"As a teacher I want them to take back that you need your environment. You need to harvest, you need to give back and the earth is one thing that you can give back and by doing that the children can learn that they can give back by planting something. It goes a long way."

To make this harvest happen, the farmers had to sacrifice their own fields. But they say it is all worth it.

Richard Penner, Farmer
"It's one way that we can give back to Belize and to show the kids that we care and that's what it's all about. We farmers enjoy doing it. As you saw today all the combine drivers coming out and I could see everyone was excited. Only one of them charged a penny for it and that's what we love to do."

The farmers harvested 40 sacks of corn. If anyone wants to buy a sack or two you can call 621-5141. As you heard, all the proceeds will go to the city kids at Belize Camping Experience. What is different about this harvest is that another 40 acres will be harvested in November but this time it will be 40 acres of Soybean - which they have never planted before.

Channel 7

Harvest for kids reaps 40 acres of corn

vlcsnap-2015-10-13-21h22m14s474Belize Camping Experience (BCE) is a Christian ministry which has been working with children mainly from Southside Belize City since 2012 by hosting summer vlcsnap-2015-10-13-21h22m25s987camps for them. One programme of BCE is Harvest for Kids, an initiative spearheaded by Alexander Perez. Perez approached farmers who donate land, seed, and combines to plant agricultural crops, reap them, and sell them, using the proceeds for the summer camps and other programs for the children. There have been a number of large harvests over the past few years and this past Saturday, another 40 acres of corn were harvested in Central Farm donated by the Government of Belize for the crop planting and harvesting.

Reporter: Itís how many years now?

Alexander Perez: Harvest For Kids Director:

It was 2012 we did our first harvest right at Banana Bank with John Carr. We were harvesting and we started with 20 acres of corn and it was a very good harvest.. I remember John lend us the land twice a year and then after that other farmers have been donating different spot of land. Like this year we didnít know where we were going to get land because a farmer to give 20 is a big chunk. Somehow we got together with the Minister of Agriculture and Central Farm said you know what we have some four horses and such and such and we have 40 acres, letís give it to you guys. And that Ďs what we end up with , when we went to look at the 40 acres of land they had a little bit of pasture and that Ďs what we planted so we really thankful that Central Farm gave us 40 acres.

Some 200 persons attended the event where 9 combines rolled through the corn fields leaving only two rows of corn standing so that the bus load of children from inner city Belize could get the experience ofvlcsnap-2015-10-13-21h22m17s302 picking corn off the stalk. Josee Gongora; volunteer development, spoke about the weekendís harvesting.

vlcsnap-2015-10-13-21h22m43s156Josee Gongora; volunteer development:

On June 17 of this year we planted 40 acres of corn and it was all designated for Belize Camping Experience for next yearís camp and visitation to the schools. This Saturday we had a bus full of kids along with some parents and some teachers going over to see how a corn harvest happens. It was beautiful. We saw nine combines lined up and being escorted by the traffic police and it was like a parade of big machines there and it was just so amazing and all the people were like how can you get nine combines together. Weíre like itís not us . They are all uniting for one purpose. Since it was nine combines it took about an hour. It happened pretty fast and you know the combines left two rows of corn just for the kids so the kids could run inside and just harvest the corn traditionally. They pulled the corn and they were all itching afterwards and it was beautiful to see the kids doing that and not only that but in the end, also while they were harvesting, the farmers let some kids go inside the combines along with the driver and just experience something new. A lot of people were there, about 200 people. Seeing this beautiful harvest and it was dry but we believe that God wants to bless Belize through our kids and thatís why we had corn.


As has been reported, the country of Belize has been experiencing drought and it has definitely impacted various crops, but according to BCE director Alexander Perez, even with drought, they managed to
harvest 40 bags per acre.

vlcsnap-2015-10-13-21h22m33s169Alexander Perez: Harvest For Kids Director:Itís really difficult when you go to a farmer and he lose everything. I donít really have words to say, just to stay quiet and to say to them that God is good even though there is not a crop. Now when we start harvesting the corn here in Central Farm we were not expecting to get much because it was very dry. The corn was dying. Matter of fact, the harvest came earlier. We werenít expecting it but it just got dry that the corn just dried up and you know God is so good. We still got 40 sacks per acre. And when we were harvesting, the farmers and myself we jumped high in the air and said, Lord youíre so good because in Orange Walk our soya beans they were dying off. They were literally dying off three weeks ago and I look at the soya beans and we havenít paid the full expense of that crop. We only pay 20%. So, if the soya die, we are in debt because we have to pay off our expenses and the farmer looks to me and says, Alexander, everything is dying off. And I stand up right beside the farmer and I say, Albert, itís all ok. If we have, God is good. If we donít have, God is still good. But letís trust in the Lord. The rain came late so the crop doesnít look the best.

The proceeds from the sold corn will go to BCE for its continued work with the children. BCEís next agricultural venture is in Orange Walk in November where they plan to harvest the soybean.