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The Organic Farmer of Anandpur

by JEEVNJOT KUMEDAN

It might’ve been christened as an Organic Farm but around Nurpur Bedi, a 15-minute drive from Anandpur Sahib, it's better known as "angrez da farm". The angrez in question is Darshan Singh Rudel, a French-born British national who finally decided to make home in India and converted to Sikhism. Then, came the farm.

There's more to the farm than meets the eye. It's a farm, forgive the cliche, with a difference.

Organic. That's the byword for the products grown at this farm.

Darshan Singh, who married Malwinder Kaur aeons ago but settled down in Punjab about a decade  years ago, grows wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, pulses, turmeric and herbs like basil, thyme and oregano. "We grow on a rotational basis so that fertility of the soil is not lost and every season, we reap new crops," he says, explaining the intricacies related to the land.

Darshan Singh totally believes in the idea and spirit of organic food. As does his better half. But when they bought the land in Nurpur Bedi, family and friends actively discouraged them from the 'organic idea'. "Everyone agreed it wouldn't work out," he remembers wryly. But he believed in it. And went ahead. "It's a question of principles," says the farmer, "to produce healthy food. And consumption of organic food leads to a well-ourished body". 

The farm, which has undergone a whirlwind change since Darshan took up work, looks transported from another country altogether. "It's the
landscaping effect." beams Darshan Singh. The proactive progressive farmer has not only done the landscaping of the farm all by himself but 
has also added gazebos and fish ponds to complete the pretty picture. "I've worked hard on it." 
 

However, his involvement is not just restricted to landscaping. Darshan Singh, who practically lives at the farm, is involved in all aspects, including odd jobs as well. "I like being a part of each and every thing that happens at the Farm - be it sowing, reaping, buying seeds and marketing."  

The situation might have settled down by now but Darshan Singh's been through a rough patch. "Though I did have prior farming experience, the farming culture is different here and initially, there were a lot of labour problems," he admits honestly. Add to it, a bad yield and it might have scared away a less determined person. Darshan Singh stuck to his guns. "Now, everything's stabilised - the quality of the soil has improved many times over and the yield is excellent."  

But he rues governmental attitude. "The government does nothing for the few of us who are trying to revive the fertility of the soil," he fumes. He believes government help, first in terms of encouragement and later by providing marketing opportunities, can go a long way in promoting organic farming in the state.

"Punjab farmers have to change their farming concept - that is, if we don’t want to end up with barren land. On the other hand, organic farming is a more holistic approach to farming and it is like working with nature - a long-term solution to calculated and controlled soil."
 
That brings him to the most important factor: marketing of organic products. While the situation definitely improved in the past couple of  years, awareness, feels Darshan Singh, is still in the depths.
 

"We, at our outlet here in town, have a regular clientele and the number is only increasing," declares the rather reticent Malwinder Kaur, who takes care of the marketing aspect of the farm.

[Courtesy: The Hindustan Times]

Conversation about this article

1: Manmeet (India), February 08, 2011, 6:33 PM.

It is very good to see someone making Punjab his home against all odds and trying to change people's attitude towards organic farming. I only hope others understand.

2: Vikram Sharma (Anandpur Sahib, Punjab), June 21, 2011, 12:16 PM.

I have met S. Darshan Singh and also visited their farm house. A very hardworking man. I belong to the same village, Nurpur Bedi.

3: Sameer (Nurpur, Punjab), July 12, 2012, 9:54 AM.

I have heard about this man. Really doing a great job.

4: Sandeep (Kharar, Punjab), February 03, 2013, 2:30 AM.

I want to visit his farm. Can anybody help me with his address and phone number?

5: Gurtej Bir Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), September 10, 2013, 12:04 AM.

I just read about you and your farm. I would like to meet you. I am a raw person, I have an interest in organic farming. If you could take out some time, I would like to visit you at your farm.

6: Johnpreet Singh (Mohali, Punjab), December 11, 2013, 4:27 AM.

S. Darshan Singh ji: I am in the IT industry and am currently working in IBM. After reading this article about you, I became more hopeful of the fact that organic farming can be successfully practiced in Punjab. It's been a dream for me to take early retirement and buy agricultural land. I have shortlisted the Anandpur Sahib / Nurpur Bedi area because of the low cost and proximity to Chandigarh. I am really interested and request if you can take out time from your busy schedule for an hour or so to further enlighten me. My phone # is 098148-22456.

7: Kulwinder Singh (Mohali, Punjab), March 31, 2014, 7:15 AM.

Darshan Singh ji, I really appreciate the way you are doing selfless service.

8: S S Pandher  (Doraha, Ludhiana, Punjab), July 04, 2014, 12:11 AM.

We want to initially start organic farming on one and a half acres of land, on the factory premises of the Oswal cotton spinning weaving mills on GT Road, Doraha. Can someone guide us ...?

9: Surinder Singh (Kalanaur, Punjab), October 02, 2014, 9:52 PM.

Dear Darshan Singh ji, tussi misaal ho kurbani di, tussanu Punjab de lokaan nu jagrit karna chahida hai by media ki kaun inhaan nu loot reha hai te kiven sach de raste te chalna hai.

10: Satnam Singh  (Gopalpur, Ropar, Punjab), October 18, 2014, 8:57 PM.

Sometimes it strikes my mind that I should move away from this lawless land for a better future of my family but two things that bind me to this place, Punjab, are: it is the birthplace of my religion and my love for this place. Examples of pious souls like Sardar Darshan Singh give me one more reason to stay attached to this place. Thanks for the inspiration. One day I will also take up farming as a full time activity. Wish you a long life, S. Darshan Singh ji!

11: Surinderpal Singh Tung (Kent, Washington State, USA), July 07, 2015, 9:30 PM.

I watched S. Darshan Singh on Punjabi TV last night. The way he was talking, he comes across as a man of God of who is showing the mirror to those who do not want to see themselves. I would be very lucky if I could have a darshan of S. Darshan Singh. I'm visiting Punjab this winter and I will try to contact him. May God always bless him and his family.

12: Daljit Singh (Dera Bassi, Punjab), November 02, 2015, 10:34 AM.

I am also focusing on organic agriculture since a few months ago.

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