South Surrey farmer James Yue wades through his lettuce field Tuesday afternoon

Flooded South Surrey farmers look on bright side

Weekend deluge has lasting effect on food supply, but fails to dampen spirits

Checking on his lettuce crop the morning after Sunday’s downpour, South Surrey farmer James Yue wanted to cry.

Where the fields used to be, there was a vast body of water – the result of torrential rains that drenched the Lower Mainland.

Nine acres of his leafy crop – of his livelihood – are still underwater. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was still deep enough that when he waded in, it reached to his mid-thigh, and he estimates it will be another three weeks before it can be replanted.

“It’s devastating,” Yue said of the damage. “What I lost, you can’t recover it.”

Yue, a fourth-generation farmer, estimates the deluge – which hit the eastern corners of White Rock and South Surrey particularly hard – has cost him at least $100,000 in plants, fertilizer and more.

“And that’s being conservative,” he said. “You don’t expect these things. My mom’s been at it for 55 years – she’s never seen anything like it.”

Yue’s family owns three farms – 100 acres in all – in the 4300-block of 176 Street. They started farming in 1967.

James YueHalf of the land is used for lettuce – from romaine to iceberg, all grown from seed – which Yue said makes James’ Garden one of the province’s largest growers. Squash is his second-biggest crop.

The produce is largely sold wholesale to local buyers, as well as to others in Alberta.

Yue estimates the storm wiped out lettuce that would have filled 4,500 cases – more than 100,000 heads in all – and set his leek crop back months.

That pricier vegetable would have been harvested mid-July. Now, it won’t be ready till late fall, possibly as late as November. The lettuce harvest, typically ready for the end of May, has also been set back.

“The whole of June is wiped out, too, now,” Yue said. “I won’t have any until July.”

He is thankful he delayed planting additional squash a week ago. If he hadn’t, his losses would have been deeper.

Last weekend’s rainstorm was described as a “100-year event.” Of the 91.6 mm recorded, 86.2 mm fell on Sunday – much of it over a short time span. The volume over a 24-hour period was more than what typically falls over the entire month of May.

Yue’s crops were not the only ones affected.

Mike Nootebos of Mary’s Garden, in the 15600-block of 40 Avenue, also lost produce to the storm. His loss is “in the thousands,” but nowhere near that experienced by Yue, Nootebos said.

Once Mary’s Garden is open for the season – in about a month – customers may notice things like lettuce or spinach at times missing from the selection, he said.

“We planted two patches (of lettuce), one was flooded, the other one’s fine,” Nootebos said. “There’ll be a gap for a week where we’ll be out of… about a half-dozen items.”

Both Yue and Nootebos said they are not letting the losses dampen their spirits.

“You just kind of look ahead and carry on. You have to,” Nootebos said.

Yue, who started working the land with his parents when he was six, agreed.

“You feel defeated at first,” he said. “Then you look at the bright side.

“I’ve got my family – that’s the most important thing. It’s not the end of the world.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Walnut Grove’s Shawn Meehan (front) has started another band, Trigger Mafia. This local country rocker has put country on the shelf, and is going hard-core rock with this group, releasing their first single last Friday to radio. It started as a way to pass the time during the COVID lockdown, and evolved. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley musician drives rock revival with COVID twist

Trigger Mafia goes straight from the garage to radio with raw lyrics

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

A surveillance camera in a photo posted to the Project Iris page on
Quality surveillance video helps catch crooks, Surrey Mounties say

Charges laid in connection to break-and-enter in Guildford area

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read