Farmington kicked off its leg of the Harvest of Hope project with great success over the weekend.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, more than 100 area farmers, pork and dairy producers, corn growers and members of St. Michael's Catholic Church and others came together to celebrate the first-year Harvest of Hope. St. Michael's, one of four host locations in the south metro area, welcomed folks from around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as a delegation of missionaries from the Diocese of Kitui from Kenya, Africa.

The Harvest of Hope is an ecumenical growing project that will provide funds to help provide food security to the Kitui area.

"We weren't able to harvest quite yet, but this gathering was meant to celebrate what's going to be happening and spread awareness," said Mickey Friesen, director of the Center for Missions for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Local farmer Andy Derner, a member of St. Michael's, knew the parish owned a couple of acres of farm land. By working with the local parish and the church's neighbor, Lorraine Adelmann, Derner was able to secure several acres of land for the Harvest of Hope project. He also donated six acres of the land he farms with his son-in-law.

Soybeans were planted on the local land this spring. Additionally, several parishioners and area businesses have contributed money, equipment and man hours to growing the crop. Once the crop is harvested and sold, the proceeds will be contributed to the Food Resource Bank, which is an umbrella agency that works ecumenically to find solutions to world hunger. The funds will be matched dollar for dollar by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The FRB will use the funds from the Harvest of Hope to provide seeds, tools and training to the area.

"We don't have a dollar amount yet because we've yet to harvest, but this is going to be a big success," Friesen said. "The who idea behind this is based in giving and support. This is a collaborative effort to provide greater food security in Africa. So many people are playing a part in making this a successful effort."