Farmer turns rain into fundraiser

Landon Friesen, a Manitoba farmer, was quick to get onboard with Rob Stone's "rainy day challenge." Friesen says his donation will go to a group that works to end teen addiction. | Twitter/ @Landon707 photo

A simple tweet raised tens of thousands of dollars for charitable organizations thanks to recent rain.

Rob Stone, who farms at Davidson, Sask., posted a “rainy day challenge” on Twitter May 14. He pledged to donate $1,000 to a charity if it rained a half-inch or more at his farm by May 25.

“Join me if you wish,” he concluded his post.

Widespread rain, and some snow, began falling across the Prairies May 19 and the pledges started to come in.

Some came up with their own rainfall thresholds that resulted in donations greater than $1,000 and some split their donations.

The lucky recipients included all kinds of groups, from STARS air ambulance to Telemiracle to daycares and trust funds for families that have experienced tragedies.

An Alberta family joined in to support the outdoor classroom at the Seven Persons School.

And, some said they were prepared to donate again in June.

Stone said he had no idea how much had been raised in total. STARS estimated it would receive at least $15,000 from the effort and one Twitter user suggested the overall effort raised more than $30,000.

Stone, who supported the Saskatchewan 4-H Council, said he didn’t realize how well his challenge would go over. He said he didn’t have a particular reason for the tweet but thought it might be fun and that a few people might participate.

“You kind of get running the math in your head about dust and crops and positive markets and think if we do get some rain that would be good, and if we did get some rain we’d be able to probably afford to share with some other people that could use it,” he said. “I kind of thought it would resonate with some people.”

Stone said spring has been incredibly stressful for many people dealing with dry conditions and they needed something to look forward to.

A small moisture band underneath the topsoil was rapidly disappearing when on May 20 his farm received four-tenths’ worth of snow. The next two days saw 33 millimetres of rain.

Stone said that’s enough to get the crop out of the ground and provide hope that more rain will bring the crop to full potential.

While he knows full well the challenge didn’t really make it rain, he noted it was a way for #AgTwitter to come together for causes they deem important.

He hopes it helped people outside of agriculture understand that farmers can be caring and compassionate, even if they are complaining about the weather.

“I marvel at people’s buy-in to an idea that there was no design behind,” Stone added. “The ag community has just shown up to be something else. It’s really inspiring to be part of a community like that.”

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