Fields of gold dot the landscape of Simcoe County; fields of green, yellow, blue, and, in the fall, fields of burnt orange. You can pick asparagus in the spring, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in the summer and apples and pumpkins in the fall. You’ll see sheep in a rocky and hilly field near a river; cows lazing in the middle of wide open spaces. Even llamas make an appearance on Simcoe County farms.
The total number of farms in Simcoe County in 2011 numbered 2 189. (Source)
Of those, 179 grow soy, the crop that turns a beautiful burnt orange in the late summer at harvest time. (Stats Can 2011)
Earl Stewart and his son Adam are farmers in Beeton who grow soy in their fields, as well as wheat and corn.
While farm operators are getting older (Stats Can 2011 census shows that, for the first time, age 55 and over is the largest group of operators), Adam is a young man in his early twenties who says that he will take over the farm. This farm is where his grandfather was born; it has been in the family for generations.
On a sunny day in late September, Adam is harvesting a 35 acre field of soy. On a good, day, he says, it will take him half a day to harvest a field this size. In all, they have about 800 acres of land.
The soy he is harvesting will go to the co-op in Tottenham where it will be sold to the crushers. He says it will all, most likely, be turned into oil.
Come next season, they will buy seed again. It’s more expensive to buy the “copyrighted” seed, the kind they can’t save, but he says conventional seed requires more expensive pesticide so it balances out.
Since 1941, the numbers of farms has be deceasing across Canada. But, farms are growing in size. Between 2006 and 2011, the average Canadian farms increased 6.9% to 778 acres (Stats Can 2011). Farms in Simcoe County are not so large.
In 2006, it was estimated that, by 2031, the average farm size in Simcoe will grow to reach 332 acres. (Source)
Simcoe County has unique soil make up that lends to specialty crops.
Simcoe County has a number of unique features that allow for the production of specialty crops. The northern half of New Tecumseth and Adjala-Tosorontio is known as a major potato growing area, due primarily to the sandy soils in this area. The organic soils of the Holland Marsh in Bradford West-Gwillimbury are well suited to vegetable production.(Source)
Indeed, Alliston has a Potato Festival every August to celebrate the main crop grown in the area. Bradford has a Carrotfest every summer as well.