Area farmers welcome help from across the ocean

The fifth and sixth grade classes at New England Public School encountered a wonderful learning experience in November.

Sasha (Oleksandr) Gryniuk (L) and David (Dawid) Pretorius (R) stand in front of a classroom at New England school. (Photo by Rachel Bock/The Herald)
Sasha (Oleksandr) Gryniuk (L) and David (Dawid) Pretorius (R) stand in front of a classroom at New England school. (Photo by Rachel Bock/The Herald)

By RACHEL BOCK
Herald Reporter

The fifth and sixth grade classes at New England Public School encountered a wonderful learning experience in November. Students were able to learn the differences and similarities of farming in the Ukraine and South Africa as two gentlemen, who work for an area farmer, took time to visit with the students about farming and their heritage.

David (Dawid) Pretorius, who is from South Africa, and Sasha (Oleksandr) Gryniuk, who is from the Ukraine, work for Doug and Janelle Fitterer, owners of Fitterer Farms. The two gentleman are working in the United States as part of an H-2A Government Program that allows United States employers to bring foreign nationals to fill the need for agricultural employment in the United States. Pretorius who has been in the United States and with the Fitterer’s for two years, and Gryniuk who has been with the Fitterer’s for five years, can only stay in the United States for nine months at a time, and due to the rules of the H-2A program, they have to return to their home country and stay for an extended period of time before returning back to their employer in the United States.

In the Ukraine and in South Africa, crops are similar to North Dakota as they raise corn, wheat, and canola. However, there are major differences when it comes to technology relating to farming practices in the United States, compared to their home countries.

“I am enjoying the farming down here because of the bigger equipment, and all the modern stuff like auto steer, and the GPS systems,” Gryniuk said. “Yes I like it, but it is too expensive to buy it in the Ukraine.”

Both men agreed that when they go back home to visit, their family and friends are in shock and awe about the farming technology we have here in America, and how different the farming is back where they are from. They said that people even second guess when they tell them, and the duo has to display pictures and videos of the technology that they are learning to use in the U.S.

“They don’t believe it, their jaws drop to the ground when we show them all the stuff that we do,” Pretorius said.

During the small assembly, the fifth and sixth grade students were able to ask both Gryniuk and Pretorius questions about the Ukraine and South Africa. The students asked questions that varied from the kind of subjects that they studied while they were in school, to the money exchanges, to what kind of food they like to eat in America, and how many languages that they speak.

Both Gryniuk and Pretorius enjoy being here in America and so far have learned a lot about farming in the process. For the Fitterer’s, they have also enjoyed getting to know the gentlemen and their cultures and welcoming them as an essential part to their farming operation.

“We appreciate them and they have grown to be part of our family,” Janelle Fitterer said.

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