In 2014, with a goal of 500,000 lbs to charity and 5 farms totaling 70 acres, there are plenty of challenges and lots of work to do. Jas has managed to sustain himself by growing and selling crops on the side.
“Pickling cukes were a huge part of my income last year, maybe $22,000.00 gross. They were primarily worked by two hired workers and volunteers who chose to help out. Gods Little acre is making a bold move into the retail market. With at least two retail locations slated to open in the Spring of 2014, the farm will be self-sustainable and the profits will support the charity side. This is a business model which will be transparent with the numbers and will basically be run like a non-profit. I’m not into having my vision changed and I’m not into getting public tax payers money year after year. It’s an uphill battle. Besides, we have the perfect thing – food – to offset the charity side crop expenses.”
“The general public likes the fact that we are not committed to death and that it is a basic operation of one person with a vision and now over 1100 people on the volunteer database. People respond to simplicity, I will always keep the charity side of God’s Little Acre at zero administration costs. There are plenty of wonderful people running wonderful charities that do a great job but this is grassroots. Don’t be surprised if in 5 years, God’s Little Acre has ten retail stores, but it better be giving away millions of pounds of product or it’s not happening.”
God’s Little Acre recently started GLA Saskatchewan and the goal is to go National. Wait until you hear how that started!
Just like the volunteers on the farm, Jas refuses to take any salary or wages from the charity side.
“We don’t need this project to make a profit on the backs of hungry people and it will remain that way. I have no problem living in the same poverty spectrum as the people we serve and fighting our way out the easy way…which is often the hard way. See you at the farm!”
God’s Little Acre Farm 2014
In 2013, the game changed. Encouraged by public support Jas, Superman and a handfull of regular weekly volunteers took on the challenge of farming as much as they could. This included a second farm covering 42 acres.
“I remember having the Forest Gump moment when we hit the 15 acre marker and I said to myself…looking both ways …might as well keep going”.
Seeding 34 acres mostly by hand or garden seeders, Jas felt that the public would come if the right story was told by the media. Jas knew at the time of seeding that the project would never survive without public support and so he put his faith in people.
“ People always want to be part of something, it’s in our nature”.
Shortly after a media release and plea to the public, 580 people showed up in one day to get the farm caught up.
“We took good care of the plants however the weeds had grown and it was crunch time”.
Jas credits the media for putting out a true story which brought all the wonderful people.
“People came to work and help and I must say I never expected or envisioned that kind of support at all. From that day on they became true heroes of the farm”.
Once exposure to the general public was achieved, a steady volunteer stream of people started coming weekly to help. In 2013, God’s Little Acre donated 200,000 lbs of vegetables to needy individuals, soup kitchens, food banks as well as schools for their lunch programs. The farm continues to be funded by Jas and many individuals and corporate groups who have stepped up to the plate.
“It’s a great place to come…I never thought or imagined that so many people would come to the farm and build our little community”.
Although Jas follows his Christian beliefs, there are many trying times on the farm.
“I did an interview for a radio station and I remember the psychologist who was analyzing me saying that It was a happy place for me and that’s part of why I do it. It is a happy place but it’s not that way every day, especially when I get turned down for funding by yet another millionaire or a corporate group who is concerned that I used “God” in the farm name. The happiest day on the farm was when 580 people showed up from all walks and faith or non-faith backgrounds. The Sikh temple fed them all at the farm and later in the evening and a Muslim group came to help. I welcome and invite all groups to come and help on the farm. Who am I to judge or exclude them from the community?. If people ask about my beliefs, I share them but we do not permit preaching on the farm; that’s for others to do if they feel called. I feel bad for those who don’t want to help due to political reasons. After all, they wouldn’t be helping me, they would be helping the poor.
In the Spring of 2011, Jas Singh had a vision of a farm dedicated to the needy. The object of the farm is to provide food for individuals and families who have fallen behind in their personal lives in our own back yards. With $120.00 in his back pocket and no vehicle, the farm was started. After a chance meeting with an individual he met at a swimming pool, Jas started the trek after being reassured by this individual that he would receive funding to start the project.
Following the Holy Spirit, Jas secured the farm, the seed potatoes and the fertilizer at no cost other than financing the seed potatoes. The farm was just a place he had pulled into to look at a map to see where to look for vacant land. Little did Jas know that the first place he pulled into was the very farm he was looking for. A thirty acre hay field, two tractors, one without a clutch, some minimal equipment and Gods Little Acre was started. Jas went back to meet with the individual at the pool the following week to let him know that he did not need funding and to thank him for the offer. The man, who had advised Jas that he was there every Sunday, morning was never to be seen again.
Being blessed by receiving the farm at no cost, Jas promised that he would fulfill the vision he had had months earlier and worked the fields alone for the 2011 season. It wasn’t easy. Lacking proper equipment, Jas borrowed what he needed by cleaning farmers’ yards, trading and fixing equipment for supplies, and with no irrigation and no shelter, it seemed almost impossible at times. Jas worked at a local farm to fund the project from 6am to 6pm and then would come to his farm and work well into the dark. In it’s first year, the three acre section (which was all he could afford to grow) yielded 62,000 lbs of potatoes, all of which was donated to the Surrey Food Bank.