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  • Norfolk Farms

Norfolk Farms Summer 2024

Updated: Jun 28

Norfolk Farms Issue 30 is jam-packed with some great local farming stories & information..

Issue Editorial - Remembering our past

Driving down the roads of Norfolk County today, there is a subtle difference that many people don’t see – the backroads are almost all paved with tar and chip. This differs from much of Oxford County, for example, where the backroads are gravel.

Local lore is it was taxation money from tobacco farming that helped politicians from the former townships fund the paving. This is one of the many subtle impacts from “tobacco dollars” from days gone-by.

Tobacco took off as a crop after the first plants were planted in the Norfolk Sand Plain in 1920. The industry grew, farmers became prosperous, and as a result, the entire area prospered. Even teenagers growing up in the tobacco belt did well as they earned more money in roughly a month than their counterparts in urban centres. They bought cars, records, spent money and helped the local economy.

Then, when tobacco products started to be frowned on for health reasons, the industry started to slide. Many diversification projects were tried, and several took off.

Today, there are still about 130 growers, mostly in Norfolk County, who are growing 15,000 acres. Tobacco is not the acreage it once was, but it is still grown. Some frown on it, but others argue that as long as people smoke, it might as well be grown here.

So, when driving down the backroads this summer, and passing a tobacco field, pause to pay heed to the area’s heritage, maybe remember incidents of “tobacco poisoning” as a teen, and crank up Stompin’ Tom Connors’ Tillsonburg to recall the “back aches” associated with priming. 


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