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‘Crushing loss’: Beloved Burnaby farm and produce store closes after 50 years

Customers flood store's Facebook page with hundreds of tributes about what their business meant to them.

An outpouring of affection has flooded the Facebook page of a Burnaby agricultural institution that has closed down after nearly 50 years.

Hop On Farms at 5624 Marine Dr. provided fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers in South Burnaby, but its owners - the Hong family- have decided to retire.

“After almost 50 years, Hop On Farms is sad to announce that we will not be re-opening this season and will be closing our store permanently,” reads a post on its Facebook page and website. “This was a very difficult decision, but the time has come for the backbones of our business to begin their long awaited and well-deserved retirement. Faced with many challenges over the years, we always managed to overcome them, but the long hours and physical labor on the farm has taken its toll and now it’s time for some R&R.

“We are so grateful for all your support, which helped us build our family business and we would like to thank all of you for your loyalty and patronage over the years and for making Hop On a part of your lives. We will miss serving all of you, as you made coming to work pleasurable and rewarding. You were more than just our customers, you became our friends.”

That feeling of friendship was expressed in more than 350 comments on the Facebook post from loyal customers.

“It’s a crushing loss,” wrote one customer.

Another talked about the value of having farm-to-table items so close to their home.

“This is indeed sad news, but your faithfulness in providing such quality produce, and all of your yearly hard work, has indeed earned you all a good and well-deserved retirement,” wrote Twila Savigny. “Though you will be missed more than words can say, we appreciate you and are grateful for all you have done for your community. Every year the fruits of your labour exceeded what we could get at any grocery store 100 times.”

Chan Kow Hong arrived in Canada in 1952 when he was 21 to join his father Gay Tim, who was leasing farmland on the Musqueum Indian Reserve in Vancouver. But they wanted to own their own operation. In December 1953, Chan Kow and three others bought the property on Marine Drive between Gilley and Royal Oak avenues. They named it Hop On Farms because in Chinese it meant peaceful partnership or union.

By 1964, Chan Kow and Gay Tim bought out the other partners.

Hop On Farms didn’t just serve customers, it also helped out other farmers.

“You gave us support, and you were always so free with your helpful advice,” wrote Jeff Lee of Honey Zen Bee Apiaries. “We take a page out of your book and we help up-and-comers, too. So, enjoy your retirement but also know that you have really been a mainstay food producer and supplier in the Lower Mainland. Good wishes flowing your way.”

- With files from Grant Granger, NOW

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.