Dean Toews raised more than $100,000 last year for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank
By Diego Flammini
A Manitoba producer has opened his farm to selfie seekers hoping they’ll donate to a worthy cause while visiting the farm.
Dean Toews, who grows corn, sunflowers and edible beans near MacGregor, Man., is letting social media users take selfies among the sunflowers while raising money for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Visitors “want to see the sunflowers, but it’s essentially trespassing unless they have permission. And so we thought, ‘What if we gave people permission to come and enjoy themselves in the field?’” he told CBC.
Toews did a similar visitor experience last year while raising money for the charity, which helps address hunger in developing countries.
He raised $2,000 from donations and sold the sunflower crop for about $20,000. With support from the federal government, his total exceeded $100,000.
To help surpass that amount this year, Toews invested in signs with QR codes which allow visitors to make a donation from their phones.
Allowing visitors onto the farm also provides an educational opportunity.
Statistics Canada data from 2016 says the farm population in the country accounted for about 1.7 per cent of the total population.
Manitoba’s farm population was 3.6 per cent of Canada’s total population.
As Canadians continue to be disconnected from agriculture, opportunities like these help people make a connection with agriculture, Toews said.
"As time goes on … people are more separated from agriculture, and so this allows more interaction," he told CBC. "It is raising money, but on the farmer hat side, it's just a pleasure to have people enjoy what we do."