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Canola for a cause: Essex County farmer opens field for food bank donations

A Harrow-area farmer is welcoming people to take selfies near or in his 100-acre canola field in exchange for donations to the local food bank.

Karl Neudorf said this is the first year he’s turned his field into a fundraiser, but the third that he’s attempted growing winter canola in the region.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Neudorf exclaimed, after discovering a $100 bill inside the donation box he assembled in the back of a 1949 Ford pickup truck.

“So far we've collected over a thousand dollars so we're quite surprised, and the community has been generous.”

Neudorf explained him and his wife Sandy came up with the idea and that response has been positive, with proceeds being delivered to the Harrow Food Bank which is operated by Society of St Vincent de Paul.

“We had a bride and groom do wedding photos,” Neudorf told CTV News. “We had engagement photos and last Saturday was prom night. So there were prom girls here with prom dresses. So yeah, it's been great. We've raised money and also canned goods for the Harrow food bank.”

“We actually were overwhelmed, and it shows there's generous people in the community and sends out positive vibes.”

The colourful crop is in peak full bloom at this time of year, with Neudorf predicting the bright yellow flowers to only last for another week.Winter canola field in Essex County, Ont. on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

“I think it's a great idea,” said Scott McLean, grain originator with ADM Windsor. “The creativity of agriculture is phenomenal.”

According to McLean, winter canola production has ramped up in recent years across the Windsor-Essex region, with upwards of 15,000 acres anticipated this year in Southwestern Ontario.

“Still very small in grand scheme of Ontario agriculture but it is a nice local production,” MaClean said. “ADM Windsor crushes canola seed year round here, which is basically procured from Western Canadian production. So it is a nice local production and it does fit into the grow local buy local.”

“And then obviously the fields of yellow in the middle of May have caught the attention of the general public, and it is a nice crop rotation for the farmers as well as it adds another summer crop to harvest, spread out the rotation, spread out the workload and the pricing of canola seed has been pretty good the last few years as well.”

On Neudorf’s fundraiser McLean added, “It’s a great opportunity. It brings character to the field. It’s an opportunity to support local food banks and it’s a general all around thoughtfulness.”

The canola field can be found North West of Harrow at 3349 Concession Rd 3. Top Stories

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