Wallie Hardie
4th Generation Farmer

Hometown: Fairmount, ND
Crops: Corn and Soybeans
Farms With: Son, Josh (36)
Family: Wife, Connie; Children: Josh, Ginna, Christina; 6 grandkids and 1 on the way!
Community Involvement: Past President: Corn Growers Association. Board Member of U.S. Grains Council, North Dakota Corn Growers founding member

Willie Hardie (in black) with his family.

When first speaking with Wallie Hardie his story seems fairly typical.  Hardie loved growing up on a farm.  He loved working the land and seeing things grow. When he went to college he pursued his passion for agriculture by earning a Masters Degree in Ag. Business and even taught at the college level for a number of years.

As it happens with many who grow up on farms, when the opportunity presented itself for Hardie to make a living back home he jumped on it and started farming full time in 1978.  Hardie helped found the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, was on the board for the U.S. Grains Council for 15 years, and even earned the Presidency for the National Corn Growers Association.

You could definitely say Hardie was an accomplished farmer, and he owes a lot of that to goals that evolved organically over the years.

“We have three goals on our farm, and the first one is to work with nature,” Hardie said.  “With is the key word.  The second is to develop innovative systems, meaning, is what we are doing working and can it be reproduced, whether that is the way we work with people or the way we maintain machinery?  The third goal – improve lives.”

Here is where the typical farming story takes a turn – a 9,200-mile turn to be exact.

“Ten years ago my oldest daughter Ginna was a missionary nurse in Mozambique, Africa,” Hardie said.  “We went to visit her, ended up spending a month there in total, and as farmers, my son Josh and I wondered why nobody in Mozambique farmed commercially.”

While farming may have initially been at the forefront of their minds, faith was tugging at their hearts.

“The people there really drew us in,” Hardie said.  “They are very loving, very accepting, and very open.  They are also very poor.  There is little employment in Mozambique.  No one has jobs.  They have these little patches of white corn, and they eke out a living.  They are hungry a lot of the time.  We wanted to demonstrate the love of Christ in a tangible way and thought perhaps we could use what we know to give others a leg up.”

The Hardies bought 8,000 acres in Mozambique and providence introduced them to Andrew.

Andrew is a chicken farmer who was looking for two things. First, he needed a reliable source of yellow corn and soybeans to feed his chickens.  Second, he was looking to raise the people of his country out of poverty by giving them opportunities through agriculture.  You could say it was a match made in Heaven.

“We supply the feed for this large chicken operation, and Andrew will give a nuclear family 1200 day-old chicks, the feed, and plenty of mentoring,” Hardie said.  “After 35 days, if this family has done everything right that day-old chick has turned into a 2-pound broiler. The family returns the chickens to Andrew, and he pays them based on performance. What they earn with Andrew is far more than they ever could have on their own. He is making capitalists is what he’s doing.”

Hardie is also continually working on getting local farmers to manage their own farms more efficiently with limited resources like utilizing drip irrigation.  Through trial and error Hardie has found it is extremely tough to grow plentiful crops of corn and soybeans.  He had to cut his own losses after several crops died.

“Not getting rain for 8 months out of the year is very challenging,” Hardie said.  “Sorghum for feed stands a better chance in that environment, and the climate is also excellent for cashew trees.  Right now we’re planting a lot of cashew trees knowing we can employ the local people to harvest them.”

In addition to teaching the people of Mozambique about agriculture, Hardie and his family started a project you can read more about at thegardenwell.com. In the past two years they have drilled four wells, giving more than two thousand people in Mozambique access to clean water.

“We really feel our role is to try to get them on the first rung of that ladder,” Hardie said.  “Our long-term goal there is to make our farm a demonstration farm.  We can teach about seeds, about fertilization, about irrigation, and herbicides.   We can be a model farm, and we can also help provide them with a fair market once they do start to grow their own sustainable crops.”