Agriculture & Food
Norfolk County farmers grow more asparagus, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, and other vegetables than anywhere else in the nation, according to Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Agriculture.
Norfolk County is also Ontario’s leading grower of asparagus, cabbage, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, rye, squash and zucchini, strawberries, and other vegetables.
Berlo’s Best Sweet Potatoes, Cider Keg, EZ Grow Farms, Howard Greenhouse & Produce, Lake Erie Farms, Magalas Produce, McElhone Farms, Nightingale Farms, Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association, Procyk Farms, S. Fett Farms, Scotlynn Commodities, Shabatura Produce, Sovereign Farms, Welsh Bros. and other wholesale growers supply fruit and vegetables to markets across North America. Southcoast IQF Inc. is an organic vegetable and fruit flash-freeze facility that processes green and wax beans, green peas and sweet corn. Pristine Gourmet presses sunflower, canola and soy beans into cold-press oils for the culinary market. Kernal Peanuts grows and processes peanuts.
Norfolk County also has several meat processors: Fiedler Meats, VG Meats, Townsend Butchers, Norfolk Packers and Dekonings. Jensen Cheese has its headquarters in Norfolk County. We are also home to ice cream manufacturer, Unilever / Good Humor – Breyers. Lakeshore Fish Co. and Pleasant Port Fish Co. process fish from Lake Erie.
In recent years, several wineries and craft breweries have developed in Norfolk County. Included among them is Burning Kiln Winery, whose wines have been named twice as official red wines for the Ontario Legislature. Also, Norfolk County is home to Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery, Blueberry Hill Estate Winery, Frisky Beaver Wine Co., Golden Leaf Estate Winery, Inasphere Winery, Villa Nova Estate Winery, Wooden Bear L Winery, Blue Elephant Craft Brew House, Charlotteville Brewing, New Limburg Brewery, and Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm.
“There are huge opportunities in agriculture if you want to get together, learn and understand the technology that is available. There are significant employment opportunities here for people who want to work hard and dedicate themselves to agriculture.” – Hayden Dooney, Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association
Other industries have sprung up around the agriculture sector. Vandenbussche Irrigation has been an irrigation design and installation leader in the agriculture and turf sectors for 50 years. Klassic Coconut processes sweetened and desiccated coconut products in Norfolk County, with a 65% share of the industry in Canada. Norfolk Leaf is Canada’s only full service tobacco processing plant.
Agricultural Innovation & Research
University of Guelph – Simcoe Research Station (uoguelph.ca/plant/stations/simcoe) provides services focused on horticultural crop development from seed through to end product. Main research focus areas are breeding and management of berry crops, asparagus, apple, peach and cherry tree physiology and management, vegetable weed management, vegetable production and physiology and alternative crops. Interesting facts about the Simcoe Research Station:
- Celebrated its 50 years of service in 2011
- Hosts an on-site weather station that has been maintained since 1962
- Four outer-connected heated glasshouses have computer-controlled environments
- Twelve cold storage units for storing seeds, vegetable material and crops
Located at the Simcoe Research Station, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Simcoe Resource Centre is strategically focused on making Ontario’s agri-food industry and rural communities prosperous and competitive in the provincial, national and global economies. Specialists at this location include:
- Berry Crop Specialist
- Fresh Market Quality Program
- Ginseng and Medicinal Herbs
- Horticulture Technology Application
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – Specialty Crops and Pome Fruit
- New Crop Development
- Transition Crops
- Water Quality Engineer
Norfolk Land Stewardship Council’s (NLSC) is a project of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Its role is to provide a broad representation of Norfolk County, including landowners, land interest groups, agencies and associations. Together, these stakeholders identify and act on the needs of the community. The NLSC provides landowners with access to programs and funding sources to support their stewardship efforts.
Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) provides a financial incentive for producing valuable ecological services on Canadian farmland. These ecological services include clean air, clean water, flood mitigation, climate adaptation, carbon sequestration, species-at-risk habitat and support for our native bees and pollinators. Specifically, ALUS helps farmers restore wetlands, reforest, plant windbreaks, install riparian buffers, manage sustainable drainage systems, create pollinator habitat and establish other ecologically beneficial projects on their properties. ALUS originated in Norfolk County but now delivers programs across Canada.
Ontario Ginseng Growers Association (OGGA) is a non-profit organization of producers of Panax Quinquefloius (ginseng) who grow, harvest and sell the root. The Association supports research into new varieties, new production methods and harvesting advances. It also develops strategic marketing directions for the industry as a whole, while working with government partners and associations to develop a larger market for North American ginseng. There are more than 220 growers in the OGGA, accounting for the largest production of North American ginseng.
The Ontario Asparagus Growers’ Marketing Board in one of Ontario’s oldest marketing board, beginning in 1938. It is incorporated and a not-for-profit agricultural association under the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act. This provides designated representation for all commercial asparagus growers in Ontario. The purpose of the board is to regulate marketing to processors, represent the growers and advocate for growers to industry and government agencies.
Today’s consumers expect crisp, juicy apples year-round, regardless of where they live. Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association makes this their commitment to continuously improve the quality and quantity of fruit and to make the processing systems as efficient for the farmers as possible. Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association has over 100 years of expertise and is a well respected business. Their apples and pears are shipped worldwide.
The Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.) program brings about 15,000 foreign seasonal workers from the Caribbean and Mexico to Ontario and Norfolk County annually to assist with farming. F.A.R.M.S. is a private sector run organization, governed by a Board of Directors, appointed from those commodity groups participating in the program.
For more information on Agriculture in Norfolk County visit www.norfolkfarms.com.