Heritage Line Herbs - From Tobacco to Tarragon
Benner Farms is a family farm which had its’ beginnings in the 1920’s. Tobacco was the main crop grown in the sandy soil of this South Western Ontario farm. Other crops included corn, rye, wheat and soy beans. With the decline of tobacco in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Tom and Deb made the decision to stop growing tobacco but not wanting to give up the family farm they searched for new crops to grow.
In 2002 they set forth on a new venture – growing herbs. Benner Farms became Heritage Line Herbs. The 30 varieties of herbs they started with grew to over 180 varieties and heirloom vegetable plants were added to the list a few years later. A store was opened in 2005, featuring local items, natural products, gourmet food, Fair Trade organic coffee and over 100 varieties of loose tea. Heritage Line Herbs added their own line as well – certified organic dried herbs and blends, all grown, harvested, dried and processed on their farm. They also make herb infused mustard, vinegar, tea, jelly and jam. The Silver Birch Tea Room was the next addition to their growing agri-tourism business. The Tea Room offers a full menu, featuring local produce and their herbs. Enjoy a homemade lunch in the gardens with a scenic waterfall & themed gardens enjoying the sounds of nature.
Tobacco farming was the major industry in Bayham Township earning good profits and employing many people for many years. The tobacco transition has been a difficult one for both owner, employees, businesses and municipalities. Many of our tobacco farmers retired and the next generation left. Some, like the Benners, have transitioned to other endeavours. For the Benner family, the transition from tobacco to herbs has been a challenging yet enjoyable adventure. The opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and work together again as a family brought new life to their family farm.
The quilt block, “Sunbeam”, portrays their optimistic attitude! and utilized the colours of choice – blue sky, yellow sun, golden tobacco, green for herbs and the red for the old tobacco kilns . Fitting indeed that the quilt block hangs on the old tobacco kiln.