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Indiana Farm Feeds Children, Boosts Africa's Hoosier Ties

How a small Indiana farm is helping feed hungry people around the world.

"We can make a difference."

That was the flash of insight that drove Ila and Hollace Sherwood to gaze at the bountiful fields of their family farm with renewed purpose over 25 years ago.

BHRPIt was 1985 and the Sherwoods, owners of Rosehill Farm near Mitchell, Indiana, had read an article in the Saturday Evening Post that tore at their hearts. The story told of a blighted people living half a world away who suffered through torrents of drought and famine. These concerns resonated deeply for the Sherwoods as people of the land and people of faith.

That year, with the help of friends, family and community, Ila and Hollace raised enough money to dedicate several acres of Rosehill Farms for growing and harvesting a high-lysine corn developed by Purdue University. Lysine is an essential amino acid that must be obtained through diet.

Although it was just "the corn project" then, it was the foundation of the Bryantsville Hunger Relief Project (BHRP). That first harvest did not make it to Africa. Instead it went to Mexico where hurricane victims were in dire need of aid.

Corn Bags

Now run by a board of directors headed by Susan Crawford, the daughter of Ila and Hollace, BHRP is a non-profit Christian agency dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor-people in the developing world who have been hit by natural disasters or who suffer from hunger due to ineffective and unresponsive governments. Since they bagged and shipped their first harvest, BHRP's all-volunteer staff has shipped over 140,000 60-pound bags of high-lysine corn to people in need all over the world.

BHRP recruits volunteers every year to help with cleaning, bagging and loading the corn. They also accept donations to help fund various parts of the mission, including paying the farmer the fair market price for the high-lysine corn he grows on Rosehill Farm.

Bagged corn is picked up by various aid organizations - such as Feed the Children, World Gospel Outreach and Lifeline - who then arrange for transport and delivery.

Each bag of corn contains approximately a full day's nutrient requirements for 80 people, which means that in the quarter century since BHRP began they have fed over 11 million people.

What started as a couple's shared faith in Christ to work through his people has grown to encompass a robust community of volunteers from local churches, youth groups, and community organizations.