Nfld. & Labrador

Farming on the Bonavista Peninsula: A Land & Sea archival special

From 1984, see how Bob Peddle worked the land to grow hay, strawberries and vegetables.

From 1984: Bob Peddle started with virgin forest and over 40 years, built a thriving farm

Bob Peddle started his farm in Bonavista Bay in the early 1940s. (CBC)

Once a year in Lethbridge, on Newfoundland's Bonavista Peninsula, local farmers and their families gathered for Farmers Field Day on the third Saturday of every August.

It was a time to come together — a local gathering that was several years old by the time Land & Sea visited in 1984.

Bob Peddle was one of those area farmers at the festival that year, and a successful one.

Peddle owned almost 400 acres of cleared land that could yield 24,000 sacks of turnips and potatoes in a good year. 

When Peddle was young, that land was virgin forest. He cleared the land himself, and continued to work it every year with several members of his family.

When the weather was good, the family gathered for an outdoor meal on the farm. (CBC)

His son took a mechanics course, which he put to use on the farm. His daughter sold vegetables on the roadside, and his daughter in law did his bookkeeping. Other family members, down to the grandchildren, helped out in different ways throughout the farming season.

"We takes all the family in," Peddle said.

'I wouldn't change it'

The year was one of ups and downs for Peddle and his family. When Land & Sea came by again after a wet spring, the potatoes were in full bloom but the cabbage was suffering due to dry weather. 

But the strawberries were doing well, and Peddle's grandchildren were working in the field for the first day that year picking them. On a nice day, the family often got together on the fields for a meal and some time together in between the work.

Working the land: See our 1984 episode on farmer Bob Peddle 

Later in the summer, the rain finally arrived, and with that the vegetables and hay crop — sold to the nearby dairy farms — had perked up.

It was good news for Wayde Peddle, who had begun farming full time with his father 15 years earlier. 

When his father started farming, Wayde said, he had just a horse. Now the farm had five tractors. With experienced family members on hand, Bob Peddle could start thinking about slowing down after more than 40 years of farming, but didn't seem to be in a hurry.

"I wouldn't change it, b'y," he said of his chosen profession. The work had been hard, he said, but worthwhile.

"There's nothing like your own job of farming. I loved every minute of it."

Having involved family members, like son Wayde Peddle, made it possible for Bob Peddle to scale back his farming duties ... eventually. (CBC)

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Here are some other archival episodes of Land & Sea that you may life. Remember, you can see more on this playlist on our YouTube channel. 

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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