'I hope we did them proud': Sask. farmers rally to finish grieving family's harvest
More than 50 people and 17 combines came to honour Trevor Berkan, dead at 41
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
- 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