On September 30, 2012, one hundred and fifteen Cooperstown locals gathered together to share dinner out on a soybean field. The age gap from youngest to oldest: eighty-five years. As the community broke bread together, six combines were poised nearby, ready to gather the abundant soybean harvest. The large family of volunteers celebrated the fruits of their labor and reflected back on the journey that brought them to this field. The seeds to this story were actually planted earlier in 2012 when Bryan and Laurie Nelson decided to donate the use of 90 acres of their farmland to generate money for charity. The Nelsons contacted the local food shelf, which in turn reached out to Pastor Mike Jacobson of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cooperstown, seeking his help to get the idea off the ground. Those two phone calls soon turned into Trinity Growers—a group of volunteers lead by Pastor Jacobson and Trinity Lutheran, with participants spanning multiple denominations. Trinity Growers decided to plant soybeans on the Nelson’s 90-acre plot. They hoped to distribute proceeds from soybean sales to Compassion International and other national and local charities.
Trinity Growers dug into their service project with vigor. They tirelessly gave their time and resources to the endeavor, encouraged in part by the generosity of other Cooperstown individuals and businesses that contributed fuel, seeds, seed treatment and crop insurance. Busy area farmers even pitched in, donating their expertise and use of combines, sprayers, grain trucks, diggers, rollers and tractors. Still others contributed by rallying around the project and its volunteers in prayer.
Finally, four months after planting, the harvest was ready, the banquet tables were set, and the Trinity Growers joined together in thanksgiving for each other and the way God blessed their labor of love.
Shortly after their harvest dinner, the Trinity Growers had one more reason to celebrate: the results of their labor were in. With zero administrative costs and a yield of 2,886 bushels, Trinity Growers was able to distribute $42,306 of profit across their chosen charities.
For this farming community, Deuteronomy 24:19 now carries a new meaning: “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”