African Harvest 2017: A celebration of food, farmers, radio, and resilience

African Harvest 2017

In 2014, we had the pleasure of hosting our first-ever African Harvest dinner to celebrate 35 years of Farm Radio International and raise funds to support our work. This year, we were pleased to host a second African Harvest event, building on our past success.

On May 27, on a rare sunny evening amidst weeks of rain, 125 of our friends and supporters gathered at Ottawa’s picturesque Experimental Farm to celebrate Africa’s hardworking farmers and to raise money to help them help themselves through the power of radio.  

A special focus this year was on Ethiopia. Over the past year and a half, Ethiopian farmers have been struggling in the face of the worst drought the country has seen in fifty years — worse even than those of the 1980s. Thankfully, the country is better equipped to deal with drought now than it was back then. Thankfully, too, with some help from Farm Radio International and its partners, farmers in one hard-hit part of the country were able to turn on the radio to find out what they could do to keep more of their crops and animals alive.  

To pay homage to the resilient farmers of Ethiopia, guests enjoyed an authentic Ethiopian meal of thick, flavourful stews called wat served alongside injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread made with fermented teff flour, catered by the Blue Nile restaurant. Many guests enjoyed second helpings … and some third

Dinner was followed by a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, with beans generously donated by Happy Goat Coffee Company. Dessert provided courtesy of  The Red Apron and wine and beer from our beverage sponsors, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Dominion City Brewing Company, and Malivoire Wine Company, rounded out the meal. 

Once again, we had the privilege of having Hallie Cotnam, host of Ottawa Morning on CBC Radio, as our emcee. Hallie grew up on a dairy farm where the radio was always on, and she knows first hand how important good information is to successful farming. Ethiopian-born Gizaw Shibru, Farm Radio International’s director of operations, was on hand to answer questions about the food, culture, and farming in his home country. Guests also enjoyed hearing from Doug Ward, chair of Farm Radio’s board of directors and recent appointee to the Order of Canada. 

The event also featured performances by the Tine Rufaro Marimba Band and a silent auction with a wide range of gifts from generous local businesses, including four tickets to see Bob Dylan in concert, Ottawa Jazz Festival passes, and countless other wonderful gifts. Nearly everyone went home with something special. 

A big thank you goes out to the many sponsors from Ottawa and beyond who made our second Annual Harvest event a huge success by donating their time, goods and services. Because of the generosity of so many sponsors, we raised more $15,000 towards our work serving Africa’s small-scale farmers over the airwaves.

By all accounts, this year’s sold-out event was a huge success, bringing together long-time and new supporters who have two things in common: a love of radio and the desire to help it make a difference where it is needed most.
We are already planning the next one. Be sure to save the date of May 26, 2018, to join our next African Harvest event. Stay tuned for more details!

To see more photos from the celebration, check out our African Harvest 2017 album on Facebook. If you took photos at African Harvest, please share them with us by emailing

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