Iconic Vancouver Island farmer Vern Michell passes away
For the first time in 88 years the fall harvest at Michell’s Farm will happen without Vern Michell.
The longtime Central Saanich farmer passed away on August 26th after a battle with cancer, and his son says he never took his mind off the family business.
“Even the day he passed away he asked me what did the crew do today?'” says his son, Terry Michell.
Vern Michell started farming on the iconic property off Island View Road at the age of 13 using horse and plow.
Since then, the farm has grown to more than 400 acres and is perhaps best known as the peninsula’s largest pumpkin producer.
“We produce almost a million pounds of pumpkins in a regular year,” says Michell.
“He taught us all how to have a really great work ethic,” adds granddaughter Nicole Verhagen.
While the farm's crops benefitted from Vern's constant attention, they also received advantages from his knack for predicting the forecast.
Terry Michell says the elder Michell could see weather patterns just by looking at the clouds.
“He’d ask me if I knew what the weather was going to do tomorrow and I’d say I had no idea," says Michell.
"He said, 'you’d better get moving and get the crew going faster than they are because it’s gonna be wet for the next few days.'”
There will be a memorial for Vern Michell at 2 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Saanich Fairgrounds.
His family, however, will honour his memory by getting back to work.
“That’s what he would want,” says Terry.
“He wouldn’t want to tell customers that we don’t have the product that day.”