Outlook, Sask. farmer aims to 'be the reason somebody smiles'

Jason Dewey wants to make his little corner of Saskatchewan a happier place.

That goal was top of mind when he started his farm, Dewey’s Homestead, raising chickens and heritage hogs with his family just west of Outlook.

“When we started our little homestead, we decided it’s all about quality of life,” Dewey said. “Even though the animals are being butchered to eat, they had a quality life. They got to play, eat — do whatever they want. They weren’t just raised to be slaughtered, and they actually got to enjoy their life.

“I just think happy food tastes better.”

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dewey picked up a saying that has guided him through the last few years: ‘Be the reason somebody smiles.’

That might mean calling someone he hasn’t spoken to in a while, doing a random act of kindness, or telling a fantastically terrible dad joke.

This December, Dewey decided to take that motto further.

He started a ‘smile campaign’ in the Outlook area, donating food from his farm to neighbours in need.

“I just see so many people struggling,” Dewey said. “And I thought, maybe I could help one person a month, and make it so they didn’t have to worry so much today, and go into tomorrow with a full belly.”

At first, Dewey didn’t know if much would come if his idea, but he knew he wanted to focus his efforts in the Outlook area.

“I’m never going to go out and save the world,” he said. “I’m realistic. And I was always told to take care of my own backyard before I go and try to clean up somebody else’s.”

So he made a few posts on social media, encouraging followers to reach out if they were going through a hard time, or knew of a local family who could use a little boost, and he would do his best to bring them a care package.

“It just blew up from there,” Dewey said.

In less than a month, he has received hundreds of messages — from people who need help, and from people who want to pitch in. Neighbours have even brought over turkeys and ground beef to add to his stock of pork chops, sausages, chicken and ham to give away.

“It’s really overwhelming,” he said. “I never would have thought that I would hear from so many people — but I know that there are many people who need help.

“The only bad part is, I can’t help that many people on my own. So I need my plan to snowball.”

Heading into 2023, Dewey hopes more people in the area will be inspired to help out, adding a bit of extra food to each care package he delivers.

“I’m hoping that maybe, by this time next year, I’ll have a dozen or so people donating,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be much, but it would be nice. That way, instead of giving a few pounds of meat to a family, we could give them five or six meals — potatoes, fresh veggies, bread.”

Dewey is confident people will want to pitch in, however they can. After all, sharing a smile and lending a hand is just the neighbourly thing to do, he said.

“I remember when I grew up, you walked down the street and everybody said hello, whether you knew them or not. When you’re driving in the country, everybody waves at you. And we need to start doing that again. It’s a lost art.

“I just want people to know that somebody cares.”

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix