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Valley Mormons volunteer to produce a raisin crop

Farming 80 acres of raisin grapes is a big job for any grower. The Mormon Church owns a vineyard in Madera County and it relies on its Valley congregation to produce a crop. (FOX26 NEWS)

Farming 80 acres of raisin grapes is a big job for any grower. The Mormon Church owns a vineyard in Madera County and it relies on its Valley congregation to produce a crop. They do everything from pruning to picking to sending the crop to market.

Mormons from Atwater to Porterville have spent part of their summer getting dirty on the Madera County vineyard. This is the last stage of the raisin harvest, picking up trays and dumping the finished product into bins. Jamie Hansen is the vineyard manager. "With volunteer help we're trying to pick up the rest of these raisins before we get another rain event."

This is the 23rd year that Hansen has led his Mormon flock of volunteers. "It sometimes can be hard to get people out but for the most part we have people that just love to be here and bring their families out."

Hansen is the only church member on the payroll. All of the bins filled to the top with raisins are trucked to Sunmaid in Kingsburg. They eventually wind up in the Mormon church's special packaging. "Knowing where all this stuff goes it gives me great meaning and purpose in my life."

You won't just find raisins in the Bishop's Storehouse. The food pantry benefits Mormons who fall on hard times. In the warehouse is enough food to feed an army for six months. The Storehouse also pitches in whenever there is a disaster.

Dean Witt is a Mormon state president. "It could be a drought, a freeze. It could be something that local people need help and we can redistribute and then even though they're not members of the church."

Valley Mormon's taking an active role in humanitarian causes. They days on the farm make a big difference for people in need at home and around the world.

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