Parker Springford of Nanoose Bay’s Springford Farm earned the junior grand champion grower award in his first appearance at the annual Coombs Fair Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. He is the seventh generation of his family to exhibit at a fair on Vancouver Island. — J.R. Rardon photo

Six-year-old farmer debuts with Coombs Fair trophy

Seven generations of family have exhibited at Island fairs

Vancouver Island fair exhibitors hoping to break the Springford family’s stranglehold on award ribbons may have a long wait in front of them.

Six-year-old Parker Springford, scion of Nanoose Bay’s Springford Farm, became the seventh generation of his family to enter exhibits into a Vancouver Island fair last weekend. And he walked away with the Junior Grand Champion grower’s award at the 104th annual Coombs Fair.

“I didn’t know I’d be the best junior,” Springford said after showing off his award-winning cucumber, beets, beans, peas and other vegetables at the Coombs Fairgrounds. “I just thought I’d get a blue ribbon.”

His father, Ross Springford, won the top prize for hay at the fair, held Aug. 12-13, while his grandfather, Colin, won several ribbons in the adult class of the growers’ category.

“We’ve had seven generations of the family exhibit on the Island,” said Diane Springford, Parker’s grandmother. “Agriculture is in our blood.”

The family’s Island farming history began in 1853. Colin and Diane relocated from Saanich to Nanoose Bay in 1975 and established Springford Farm, which offers beef, poultry and eggs and produce while offering space to guest market vendors and artisans.

The family has been exhibiting in the Coombs Fair since its arrival, and “Papa” Springford, Parker’s grandfather, has been exhibiting for more than 40 years at the long-running fair.

Last weekend marked Parker’s debut at the Coombs Fair, and his accumulation of produce was enough to earn him top overall points in the junior class. He follows in the footsteps of his aunt, Clarice Springford, who won the Junior Grand Champion trophy in the 1987 fair.

“He asked his papa for a little patch in his garden this year, and grew all his own vegetables,” Diane said of her grandson.

One of the fair organizers said she was told by the judges that Parker’s cucumber entry was good enough to have won the open class.

Asked what he like best about gardening, Parker thought it over for a moment.

“Sneaking peas when they’re first ready,” he said.

The youngster has no plans to retire at the top of his game. He may even take a run at Papa’s streak of 40 years at the fair, “Yes, I’m going to try this again,” he said.