Saanichton farm awarded B.C.'s Century Farm status for 100 years of service

·2 min read
Farmer Bryce Rashleigh on the Saanichton Farm, which is celebrating 100 years of production. (Ken Mizokoshi/CBC - image credit)
Farmer Bryce Rashleigh on the Saanichton Farm, which is celebrating 100 years of production. (Ken Mizokoshi/CBC - image credit)

Saanichton Farm on Vancouver Island has operated through climate change, droughts, and pandemics for just over 100 years — and the B.C. government is bestowing it an honour for its perseverance.

A Century Farm designation is awarded to farms, ranches and agricultural organizations that have been active in B.C. for 100 years.

Saanichton Farm owner Bryce Rashleigh, the third generation of Rashleighs to work on the farm, says he always knew he would take up the family profession.

"It's something I've done ever since birth ... I knew I wanted to be a farmer so for me, it's been a no-brainer just to keep doing what your heart's set to do," Rashleigh said.

Ken Mizokoshi/CBC
Ken Mizokoshi/CBC

The farm, which is located on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island, produces corn, dairy cattle, seasonal chickens and turkeys, as well as hay and other grains.

The past year, the farm ended up with a huge glut of hay after shifting consumption patterns due to COVID-19, and the horserides that tourists would take disappeared due to the pandemic.

"It took me right to the edge this summer," he said.

But after the drought and the wildfires in the interior, every one of the bales is now spoken for, heading to farms across Western Canada.

"It makes us very happy to know that all this feed is going to a good home now," he said.

Ken Mizokoshi/CBC
Ken Mizokoshi/CBC

This summer's ups and downs are representative of life as a farmer, he added.

"It's like climbing a mountain. You've got to go through some valleys and some dark spots sometimes to get to the mountain peak," said Rashleigh.

"So when you balance it all out and look back, overall you say it's a good life."

Ken Mizokoshi/CBC
Ken Mizokoshi/CBC

When Rashleigh's grandfather John first started on the farm, it was merely 16 acres of bush. John's daughter Betty — Rashleigh's aunt — was born during the Spanish flu pandemic. She's still alive, her life bookended by another pandemic.

Being recognized by the provincial government for 100 years of service is an honour, he says.

"I'm just one person along the journey. Even though I'm the third generation and the fourth are coming along, I got to meet my grandfather and work with him and my father, and so I carry on the work they started," he said.

"There's something very gratifying that you can still be in business 100 years later."

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