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Memories of the Green Farm by Gillian Crowley

fred green has fond memories of his family's farm, long replaced by high speed traffic and subdivisions

On your next drive south on the Pat Bay

Highway, imagine what you'd see near Elk and Beaver Lakes back in the 1940s and '50s. Near the present rowing club, a young boy herds dairy cattle onto the meadow and further south, strawberry fields and orchards spread across the current tarmac, sweeping down to the lakes. On the corner of Haliburton and the old winding highway, local fruit farmers bring their produce to be shipped from a Saanich Fruit Growers Association stand. Fred Green has fond memories of these sights and his family's farm, long replaced by high speed traffic and subdivisions. A retired B.C. judge who still rides a Harley at 76, Fred recalls his life on the farm encouraged independence and a love of challenges. Rural life was much freer then for kids even though they had to work hard. Fred says: "As the eldest, at age eight I was allowed to drive the tractor in the fields and by age 10 I was driving our 1936 Ford three-ton farm truck on the hay fields and nearby gravel roads. At 11 I was blowing out stumps to clear land." In 1942, Fred's father Ivan and four uncles pooled their money to buy about 45 acres of bush now bounded by Santa Clara, Walema and Del Monte Avenues and Destrube Place. The extended Green family had to clear half the land of second growth trees and later

bought another 20 acres for their "dry" cows where today's Silver Rill farm stands. The Green farm ran a mixed operation with 25 dairy cattle, more than 750 layers and 500 broiler chickens, several sows, an apple orchard and fields of "mangels" (fodder beets), hay and strawberries. During World War II, horses were still used for plowing but by 1945 the family had acquired a tractor

A retired B.C. judge, Fred Green recalls his life on the farm encouraged independence and a love of challenges. assembled from old car parts from Hafer's machine shop on Island View Road. Farming could be a dangerous occupation, especially with unpredictable animals. Fred has vivid memories of the day the hired man, who had the horse team attached to a vicious looking hay rake, walked the rig's centre pole to adjust the harnesses. Suddenly the horses startled, galloping off around the field with the man clinging to the pole for dear life. "My Uncle Harold ran to grab a halter but the horses kept going and he couldn't hang

on. Knowing the rake was behind, he flung himself off as far as possible, but the end of the rake hit his head. I'll never forget that awful sight," says Fred. The adults drove the hurt man all the way to Jubilee Hospital and fortunately he survived his injuries. From 1942 to 1946, Fred's immediate family plus his Uncle Harold and Aunt Kate lived together in one house. Eventually enough land was cleared that the families could build separate houses. Welcome in all three family homes, Fred remembers learning something different from each relative. "Dad taught me carpentry, Uncle Harold taught me farming and Uncle Stan helped me develop my love of fishing." Eventually Fred's father returned to construction full-time, Stan became a building inspector for Saanich, and bachelor Harold continued farming on a smaller scale. The land was sold in the early '60s. Despite later residential development, the house Fred grew up in is still standing on Del Monte. Recalling farm life, Fred says: "I loved the freedom, the space and the variety of activities – the vet's arrival, breeding the cows, castrating the hogs and speeding down the hills on the tractor." Are they all good memories? "No, I certainly wouldn't want to go back to hand hoeing the big mangel field or mucking out the chicken houses!"

SEASIDE | september 2013 | WWW.SEASIDEMAGAZINE.CA 41

Seaside Magazine September 2013 Issue  

Think of our publication as an extra dimension of our community space, a place where the West Coast culture is treasured and celebrated. We’...