by Eric Morten ircumstances make for a life filled with twists and turns, sometimes the path is unclear, and sometimes one can feel utterly lost. Some people, however, like that feeling. Ask Nanaimo farmer and entrepreneur Murray McNab, owner of McNab's Corn Maze and Produce Farm. "I suspect that from what I got Grandpa Murray, that we're the eleventh generation farmers in our family. And that ours is the first to go off the farm to get an education and other jobs," says McNab.
The farm has been in the McNab family since 1960 when founders Archie and Barbara purchased the 140 acre property and moved onto the land two years later with six children. Selling produce and forestry products while slowly developing the farmland, the large family struggled on to make the mortgage payments. A turn for the better came in the form of sweet corn. As the family worked hard clearing bush and weeds to develop the farmland, growing corn and produce proved the best path to success. Archie could often be seen around Nanaimo selling the corn from his van on the side of the road.
Island Farm & Garden - September-November 2017
On the McNab farm, trailblazing is now a family tradition
By the 1980s, the second generation had all taken jobs off the farm, so in 1988, when Archie passed away, the developed land was leased to several local farmers. At the same time, the McNabs continued to harvest forest products: poplar whips for bank stabilization; seedlings for pulp production; and spruce and fir seeds for Christmas tree farms in New York State and Europe. However, the desire for sweet corn in season never wanes, and in 1998, Murray's 12-year-old son Adam, with his friend, started growing corn to sell at their roadside stand as well as local farmer's markets. This renewed interest in the farm continued until the boys graduated high school.