Saskatchewan

'I hope we did them proud': Sask. farmers rally to finish grieving family's harvest

Trevor Berkan's friends and neighbours remember him for his hard work in his community and his love of his family. After his sudden death, nearby neighbours organized a community harvest on Saturday to take care of the remaining crop.

More than 50 people and 17 combines came to honour Trevor Berkan, dead at 41

Combines and trucks line Trevor Berkan's field near Southey, Sask., on Saturday. Berkan's neighbours pitched in to finish harvesting his crop after he died suddenly on Oct. 9. (Submitted by Greg Adelman)

Trevor Berkan's friends and neighbours remember him for his hard work in the community and the love he had for his family.

Berkan died in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 after suffering an aortic dissection — a condition where the major artery carrying blood from the heart tears. He left behind his wife and four boys, the youngest of whom had just started Grade 3.

The 41-year-old drove the Zamboni at the community rink in Southey, Sask., approximately 60 kilometres north of Regina, helped out the congregation at his church and volunteered with his children's sports teams.  On top of all that he had a busy schedule as a farmer.

"He was a real great guy and never thought of himself first," said Terry Focht, who was Berkan's neighbour for about 12 years.

Neighbours of Berkan, above, say he always put others first and worked hard in the community. Berkan died Oct. 9 after suffering an aortic dissection. (Paragon Funeral Services )

Berkan left more than just his family behind. There were also more than 300 hectares of crop to be harvested. With the harvest season being the slowest in recent memory, Berkan was among many farmers who were struggling to get their crop in the bin.

Neighbours plan community harvest 

Berkan owned the land along with his father, Allan — land that had been owned by the family for five generations. The land was too much for Allan to continue farming by himself, so nearby neighbours Brennan Leib and Dan Zurowski co-organized a community harvest on Saturday to take care of the remaining crop. They gathered people in the area to donate their time and equipment to help the grieving family.

"I didn't have to put out a message, people came to us," said Leib. "It was unreal the amount of people."

Friends, neighbours and members of the community gather in Berkan's field Saturday for the community harvest. Over 50 people volunteered to help. (Submitted by Greg Adelman )

Leib estimated more than 50 people and 17 combines came out. The response was so overwhelming that several people had to be turned away.

Many of those who volunteered weren't finished their own harvest. They gave up a warm, sunny day in their own fields to help out.

"I know for a fact that if things were different, Trevor would have been one of the first, if not the first to be there to help out a neighbour," said Focht.

The team worked from noon local time until around 6 p.m. Saturday to get the job done. Almost all the crop had been harvested by the day's end.

Combines and trucks line the field where farmers harvested the remaining 300 hectares of crop at Berkan's farm near Southey. (Submitted by Greg Adelman )

Volunteers extend beyond neighbours 

One farmer donated a space for the crew to gather for supper afterward. Farm dealerships in Southey and nearby Raymore donated combines for the event and a local company agreed to transport and store the harvested crop.

Some community members have also picked up a few of Berkan's Zamboni shifts at the rink.

Trucks and combines, some of which were donated by dealerships in Southey and Raymore, Berkan's field. Seventeen combines worked on the 300 hectares of field that needed to be harvested Saturday. (Submitted by Greg Adelman )

Members of the family were also on hand Saturday. Allan pitched in wherever he could and even one of Berkan's sons drove a combine.

"I think they were a bit overwhelmed," said Focht. "I don't know that they expected as many people to come forward.

"I hope we did them proud."

An account has been set up in memory of Berkan at the Conexus Credit Union branch in Southey.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story indicated that Allan was Trevor Berkan's father-in-law. In fact, Allan was Trevor Berkan's father.
    Oct 23, 2019 7:39 PM CT

About the Author

Ethan Williams is a reporter with CBC News in Saskatchewan. Before joining the CBC in September 2019, he worked as a reporter for the Regina Leader-Post. Contact him: ethan.williams@cbc.ca

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