Along with last week’s urgent plea from a Cloverdale farmer for help harvesting and delivering thousands of pounds of ripe produce bound for the food bank came a reminder that there’s another way to help.
There are also pickling cucumbers for sale to the public.
South Surrey’s God’s Little Acre Farm, run by farmer and truck driver Jas Singh, expanded from eight to 34 acres over the past three years to grow mixed vegetables for food banks in Surrey and around the region.
This year, the farm at 16582 40 Avenue grew four acres of pickling cucumbers for sale in order to offset operating costs, and to provide Singh with a modest salary – he wasn’t able to continue trucking this winter, due to the demands of the farm.
Without the public’s help to buy the farm’s pesticide-free, you-pick dill cucumbers, the farm will fail, Singh said in a plea last week.
“I have put my faith in pickling cukes and I hope you will decide to buy them,” Singh later told supporters on the farm’s Facebook page, in one of the many updates he’s posted after a long day’s work.
The cucumbers are $28 for 20 pounds, and are available Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“If you don’t know how to pickle, you can download a recipe from the internet or call your grandma,” he wrote. “If I sell out of cukes, we will recover the costs of this year’s project and help set us up for next year.”
The farm is also seeded by hand, a rarity in this age of modern farming methods.
Singh is at the helm of a lean operation. “I own one old pickup truck, no savings, no RRSPs, no investments, no house, kids in school and have been given the honor of doing this project.”
Singh is overwhelmed by the show of volunteer labour and support. “Dreams come true right here in Cloverdale, B.C.,” he said. When he started the project, he envisioned having “maybe 100 people” helping him.
But Singh and his existing volunteers were having trouble keeping up with weeding and performing even minimal harvesting, forcing him to ask for more help.
The response has gone “beyond his dreams,” he said. “At one point, there were 468 people throughout the farm.”
If you called or emailed Singh, it may take awhile before he gets back to you.
[Jas Singh, right.]
As of Monday, he’d received 790 phone calls (“most of which I couldn’t even think of picking up,”) and was sifting through 468 emails and 118 un-returned texts in a tidal wave of support.
He later realized the voicemail message box was full, and he’d actually missed 1,100 phone calls.
No matter; 580 people showed up over the course of the day on Saturday to help.
“Thank you for all the hard work and friendship,” he wrote.
In addition to picking and packing 15,000 pounds of ripe zucchini, volunteers managed to weed the farm, and install crop cover on the smaller crops.
The plan is to move onto weeding the pumpkin rows and begin harvesting potatoes later this week.
Going forward, the farm will need additional volunteers Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Volunteers will receive free produce in return for their labour. Food bank recipients who volunteer can also load up, as can seniors, people with disabilities, and single parents.
In its first two years, the farm donated an estimated 100,000 pounds of fresh veggies to individuals, food banks and charitable organizations. This year, the farm has grown 265,000 pounds of carrots, red potatoes, mixed squash and cucumbers, along with pumpkins that will be used by two schools to raise money for lunch programs.
The farm has also expanded to include a 12-acre Kid’s Farm, where young visitors can learn about farming.
Volunteer days are every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to dark, from now to Oct. 31.
Special arrangements can be made for corporate groups.
Call Singh at 604-375-1171 for more information, or email orders to email@example.com.
Cucumbers are available to pick daily, but you’re asked to order in advance unless it’s a Saturday.
– With files Black Press