One View Royal family is being honoured for putting in an honest century’s work.
The Pollock Family Farm started when brothers Malcolm and Neil Pollock bought 24 acres of land near the Six Mile Pub in View Royal from the Hudson Bay Company in 1921. Now more than 100 years later, their descendants are still growing fresh produce and are being honoured with a Century Farm Award by the province.
“We’ve really looked after the place. In 100 years there are no places that are eroded or poisoned,” said current owner David Pollock.
After buying the land, Malcolm – David’s grandfather – and Neil cleared it using horses, built four glass houses and got to work farming. The farm was known for its innovative work using glass houses to grow crops, according to a 1927 article in Farm and Home, a B.C. farm journal.
Throughout the years the farm has expanded and changed. In the 1930s, a farmhouse, barn and milk house were built and the farm was in full operation during the Great Depression and Second World War. Malcolm’s son Earl ran the farm for five decades between 1939 and 1990. In the 1970s, Earl sold the property the greenhouses were on – where Elements Casino Victoria now sits – and moved most of the farm work to its current location on Atkins Road.
Then came another generation in 1990 when Earl’s son David was added to the deed. David and his wife Ingelise started an apple orchard and berry crops, produced hay and beef, and grew a market garden. In 2003, David took over the Pollock Family Farm and continues to operate it today. The family can trace its farming roots back even further than the 1920s, with David being related to John Fenerty, who established a large farm in 1868 where the University of Victoria campus now sits.
David is now in his 70s but has three children who will decide what to do with the farm – David said they’re interested in keeping it running. Small farms like his are a tricky business to make profitable nowadays but it’s important they continue for a number of reasons, he said.
“It depends on the nature of what you’re valuing: are you valuing money, currency? Or are you valuing the way life? Small farms were the backbone of Canada’s way of life for a long time and that all kind of changed.”
Food security can also become an issue as more small farms disappear.
“If we don’t keep operating farms like this we won’t have a local food supply and I think that would be very sad,” said David.
“I was born on Vancouver Island, I was born onto this property. I grew up with agriculture all around me because of my father’s connections, and friends. When I was a little boy, almost everybody with a big backyard had a prolific garden or cement greenhouses. There’s an awful lot of food being produced and you don’t see it anymore. Modern houses don’t have any yard to speak of. I think urban populations have forgotten where their food is coming from. If we lost the ferries, we’d be in trouble in two or three days.”
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