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  • Norfolk Farms

Welcome to the Spring 2024 Issue of Norfolk Farms

Horticulture important in Norfolk County

There was a day, not that long ago, when Norfolk County was known as tobacco country. 

As the tobacco industry downsized, Norfolk farmers diversified, searching for new crops and niches. Today, a wide diversity of crops are grown, but the emphasis has switched to horticulture. The transformation is to the point that the county now bills itself as Ontario’s Garden.

Norfolk County is the number producer in the province for asparagus, cabbage, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, rye, squash and zucchini and strawberries. Many other fruits and vegetables are produced in smaller quantities. 

Provincially, there are more than 125 different fruits and vegetables grown. Many are cultivated in Norfolk County. 

The change wasn’t without its struggles. Farmers who were used to relying on a marketing board to sell their crop had to learn to do their own marketing, retailing, shipping and promotion. One result of the change was the plethora of roadside fruit and vegetable stands found on the county’s roads during the summer and early fall. Locals and tourists can now access produce at its peak of fresh-picked goodness and flavour. 

Producing our own food adds to Ontario and Canada’s food security. This was seen first hand during the recent COVID pandemic and fertilizer shortage caused by the Russian-Ukraine war. Norfolk County played a large role in securing local, fresh food when there were restrictions on movement. It also plays into buy local campaigns and the 100-miles diet.

Many farmers that once produced tobacco have retired and the next generation taken over, embracing the niche their forebearers found in horticulture. They haven’t forgotten their past, but are embracing the future and how new technology can make the Norfolk Sand Plain farm even more viable. 

Hope you enjoy this latest issue!

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