CROSBY, N.D. – A routine day of harvesting can suddenly turn tragic and show how important our friends and neighbors are. That was the experience of Lane Unhjem, who was out combining a field of durum on a dry September day when his combine caught fire. While using a fire extinguisher to battle the flames, Unhjem suffered a heart attack.
Observant neighbors witnessed the accident and summoned medical help that resulted in long-term hospitalization for Unhjem and the need for a heart and kidney transplant that kept him in the hospital until just before Christmas.
Long-time family friend and worker at the farm cooperative, Jenna Binde, sprang into action and organized harvest help for Unhjem. As a result, neighbors made short work of harvesting his durum and canola, with around 60 people showing up to help.
Because of her help in organizing neighbors and friends to harvest Unhjem’s 1,000 acres, haul his hay and move his cattle while he was unable to do so, Binde was selected as The Mosaic Company’s Harvest Hero grand prize winner.
“I had never heard of the Harvest Hero program until I got an email that said I had been selected as a winner,” Binde said. “One of the gals here in Crosby, who works for the Extension Service, nominated me for it. Up until then I had never heard anything about it. I almost deleted the email because it came across with just the subject line ‘congratulations.’”
When Unhjem learned of Binde getting the Harvest Hero award, he sent her a text message congratulating her on the accomplishment.
“It’s a good feeling whenever I can hear from because he is still in recovery and has a long road ahead of him,” she said. “He is lucky to be alive.”
Binde is a life-long resident of Crosby. She earned a degree in crop production and started working full-time for the local cooperative in 2014. Since then she has married and her husband has joined the farming operation.
The Harvest Heroes contest, sponsored by MicroEssentials, a phosphate-based fertilizer from The Mosaic Company, acknowledges people who have helped out in big or small ways to ensure a safe and successful harvest season. Individuals in the agriculture community were invited to nominate those in their life who have made impactful contributions, both in the ordinary and extraordinary ways.
“We are proud to recognize some of the most selfless, hardworking and kind people in the agriculture community through the Harvest Heroes contest,” said Mindy Dale, senior brand manager, The Mosaic Company. “We celebrate the grit and determination it takes to make harvest happen with this contest as a token of our gratitude.”
Binde was one of six Harvest Hero winners this past year. The others include: Gavin Held, Waconia, Minn.; Wesley Thomas, Elizabethtown, Ky., Barbara Sloan, Athens, Ill.; Timothy Boerner, Palatine, Ill.; and Erik Hill, Dixon, Ill.