by Judy Williams and Patrice Johnson
Each year, the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program offers farmers nationwide an opportunity to apply for a $2,500 grant that is then donated to a local nonprofit organization of the applicant’s choice. Stockbridge farmer Ben Topping applied, and in May learned his application was selected. He directed his $2,500 award to the Stockbridge Area Educational Foundation.
“I chose SAEF for this donation,” Topping said, “because they do an excellent job supporting all educational activities in our community. My family has lived in the area since the late 1830s, and my entire family has graduated from these schools. My children attend today.”
Grow Communities partners with farmers to support nonprofit organizations and strengthen rural communities. Since 2010, the program, sponsored by the Bayer Fund, has given more than $33 million to over 8,000 nonprofits across rural America. It helps fund agricultural scholarships, nonprofit organizations and school STEM grants.
“SAEF is honored to be chosen by Ben Topping as the recipient of the America’s Farmers Grow Communities 2019 $2,500 award,” said Jennifer Hammerberg, president of SAEF. “This is the second time the Topping farm has won this award and is clearly a top notch farming operation.” Hammerberg noted that Ben’s father, Gary Topping, was a founding member of the SAEF, and “his son is equally dedicated to the community.” She said, “the foundation will use this money to promote educational activities in our community.”
Ben Topping smiled. “I am proud of our schools and feel it is important that we as a community support them however we can.”