Vern Michell died Aug. 26 at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Jenni Michell/Submitted)

Friends mourn the loss of Peninsula farming icon Vern Michell

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor calls loss of Vern Michell ‘almost immeasurable’

B.C.’s agriculture minister calls Vern Michell a “farming icon” in British Columbia.

“I know his knowledge and love for the land has been passed along to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Lana Popham in expressing her condolences. “He will be deeply missed.”

For generations, the Michell family has been a fixture on the Saanich Peninsula, said Popham. “When I drive by the Michell Farm on the Pat Bay Highway, in addition to thinking about the variety of local fruits and vegetables they grow and sell, I also think about the contribution of Vern, his wife, sons and the entire Michell family.”

Central Saanich farmer Jack Mar knows that family well and says he does not know yet what he will say about Michell during the celebration of life scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Saanich Fairgrounds. But he is sure about one thing.

“It’s a great loss to any community, and I’m thinking you are going to see a lot of wet eyes,” said Mar.

Michell died on Aug. 26 at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, leaving behind Dorothy, his wife of 64 years, son Terry, his brother Tom, and their respective partners, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind a large circles of close friends.

RELATED: Iconic Peninsula farmer Vern Michell dies at age of 88

“We were real close friends,” said Mar with a modest tone.

They first met more than six decades ago. Over the years, they have had countless what Mar calls “chit-chats” as neighbouring farmers and residents of a tight farming community, with both shaping it in different ways. In the case of Mar, he sat on council for a total of 14 years, including six as mayor.

One of Mar’s successors and the person who defeated Mar in 2014, current mayor Ryan Windsor, says Michell’s loss is “immeasurable,” calling Vern and his family an institution in Central Saanich.

“I’m encouraging everyone to honour his memory by going to visit the Michell Farm Market,” said Windsor.

Both Mar and Windsor say Michell was a fountain of knowledge about farming.

“We are definitely going to miss him with all that knowledge,” said Mar.

Windsor said it will be difficult to replace that knowledge, but predicts farming on the Peninsula will endure.

“It has been passed along to so many others,” said Windsor. “He was so giving of his knowledge, as have others who have been involved in farming for decades.”

“It [farming] will endure and it is because he was so willing to pass on that knowledge,” said Windsor.


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