Local farmer surprised to find pot growing in corn field

John Campbell’s 15-acre property on 51st Avenue was visited both by marijuana-growing intruders and by Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies Aug. 19.   - Kirk Boxleitner
John Campbell’s 15-acre property on 51st Avenue was visited both by marijuana-growing intruders and by Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies Aug. 19.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — John and Linda Campbell received some unwelcome visitors to their property Aug. 19, who had apparently planted an equally unwelcome crop in their cornfields.

On the morning of Aug. 19, Linda woke up before John to pick green beans on their farm, Olympic View Gardens on 51st Avenue, when she spotted “three big tough guys” between the corn rows. Between their appearance and the fact that they weren’t even supposed to be on the still-secured property, Linda “ran like heck” back to the house where she roused John and told him about the trio of intruders.

“I was told afterward that what I did was wrong,” John Campbell said. “I grabbed my Ruger automatic pistol and ran after them. One of them had no shirt on, and was holding this plant that looked like a three-foot-tall weed, with black soil on the end of it. I’ve got lots of weeds, so I know them all pretty well, but it wasn’t any of those kinds. They took off north through the corn, so I said ‘stop.’ I didn’t point my pistol at them, but I fired some shots into the corn. I figured the noise might scare them enough to stop.”

Instead, the three men headed east, along the Campbells’ northern fence boundary, during which time one of Campbell’s neighbors saw the chase and called 9-1-1. The men then vaulted over the fence dividing the Campbells’ property from that of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, and took off in separate directions.

When Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, they identified the weed, that the one man had been holding, as marijuana.

“I’d heard stories about marijuana, but I’d never actually seen it before,” Campbell said. “I used to laugh it off, because I just figured that was something that happened somewhere else.”

On the contrary, deputies who ventured into Campbell’s cornfield came back out with a number of marijuana plants, each grown to a height of three to four feet. Deputies then searched Campbell’s chicken house, but found no other marijuana plants.

“I assume they got everything,” Campbell said. “They searched pretty thoroughly. I didn’t even see the plants. That side of the corn field is my late plantings. I won’t harvest those ears of corn until late September or October. The other side of the corn field is what’s ripe now. I just turn on the sprinkler line for the unripe side. It was right here, on my own property, but there was no reason for me to go into that side of the field.”

Each side of the cornfield takes up nearly two acres on its own and the cornfield as a whole is only part of the 15-acre Olympic View Gardens property. When deputies found dark soil on the ends of the marijuana plants on Campbell’s property, Campbell was able to tell them that it was potting soil, which does not match the native soil of his farm, making it likely that the marijuana plants were transplanted.

This farm has been in Campbell’s family since the 1920s. Campbell laughed as he recalled his father complaining of then-young hoodlums breaking onto his property to steal chickens. Campbell then sighed as he considered his options from here.

“My wife says we should get a 10-foot-high fence, but the fence we have now is already six feet so I don’t know what difference that would make,” Campbell said. “We share a lot of fencing with a lot of neighbors and most of them are good neighbors, but that’s still a lot of potential for trespassers.”

According to Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Rebecca Hover, this case is still under investigation by Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies.

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