Bob Groeneveld has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with Langley readers for the past four decades, give or take a few weeks

Odd Thoughts: Langley agriculture growing out of history

There’s more to Langley than farm animals and plants… but it all begins there

By Bob Groeneveld

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I’m sitting here just thinking about how lucky we all are to live in a place like this.

I’ve just come home from the opening of the Beverly Anne Clay Rose Garden at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Absolutely beautiful – and not just the rose garden itself, but the bee garden, and dye plants garden, and the memorials, and… well, go down there one day soon and see for yourself.

Donna and I took in the rose garden after touring the beautiful gardens at Erikson’s Daylilies’ open house down the road just a bit from our place.

Tomorrow I’ll probably drop in to Krause’s farm – about the same distance in the opposite direction – and pick up a box or two of berries.

Or maybe I’ll pop over to one of the smaller berry farms that surround us… or go a little further afield, just past the world-class Thunderbird show jumping equestrian centre, and see what Driediger Farms have to offer.

Or I could head across the municipality to partake of the production and manifold produce of a growing number of farms and wineries and what-have-you that have made Langley an agricultural tourism destination.

Langley was built on agriculture.

And it was built on tourism, of sorts.

For those who haven’t yet taken in the restored Hudson Bay Co. fort in Fort Langley – yup, that’s how the village got its name – it started out as one stop on a tourist’s itinerary.

James McMillan was scoping the area out – not much different than if you checked out Sendall Gardens in Langley City, or Williams Park off 232nd near the freeway. He noted the varieties of plants, watched (and hunted) the animals an fish, and he chatted with the local residents. A tourist, right?

Like so many tourists who see promise in a place they have visited, he came back a while later and exploited the natural resources (and the local residents).

At first, he hauled out furs, a few kegs of salted fish… but before long, it became apparent that the real long-term potential of the place was in agriculture: especially foodstuffs like cranberries and potatoes that could travel well in wooden barrels.

Next time you happen to be driving north-east up Smuggler’s Trail… er, I mean… Glover Road to get to the freeway or heading to Fort Langley, look to your right and look to your left.

Today, most of what isn’t relatively low-yield hayfield agriculture is mostly pavement and expensive car dealerships.

But once upon a time, all that flat land you see around you was once Langley’s first farm, the expansive Hudson Bay Co. Farm, which in itself was a denouement of pristine prairie.

A small bit of that pristine prairie can be seen looking northwest out of the parking lot behind Twin Rinks on Langley Bypass.

But that’s before Langley, and not really Langley, after all.

Because Langley was built on agriculture… and despite all the other industries that have been thriving here of late, that base continues to grow.

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