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Stories from the valley

Farming for Charity

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Fritz Durst’s charity begins in the field with the growing of a patch of organic sweet corn. Durst, who farms in Colusa and Yolo Counties, has for the last couple of years planted the corn in Reclamation District 108. The current crop of sweet corn was grown within a field of organic corn, which will be used for polenta for a leading Bay Area restaurants.

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On a recent warm Saturday, members of the Davis Community Church and other groups showed up at the field to harvest the sweet corn. This trip to the country not only allowed them to experience the rural life, but also learn something about farming. It was interesting to hear Fritz visit with them about preserving the soil and how the crops are grown. Most of the individuals were amazed at how little water is used to grow the crops. This corn was only watered three times, while many of the group had gardens that they water on almost a daily basis. He also gave corn-picking lessons, constantly reminding the group to drink plenty of water and take a break in the shade.

The corn was then sold the next day at the church. Over $4,500 was raised for the Food Resource Bank (, with the funds specifically going to the Colombia – Chocó project. This project promotes small scale agriculture to replace illicit crops with food crops. They are making small but steady progress in helping Chocanos bring back the tradition of growing their own food and providing for their own needs with dignity. The remaining corn goes to the Yolo County Community Food Bank.

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Fritz is a busy man, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Reclamation District 108, Vice Chairman of the Sites Reservoir Joint Power Authority and serving on many other boards. His action of growing a crop of organic sweet corn benefits farmers thousands of miles away, helps feed the local hungry, and gives him an opportunity to educate individuals on sustainable farming practices and efficient water use.