The Tobacco Farm Life Museum - Micro Adventure
If your travels have taken you through the "Old North State," you've likely driven by, through, or around a tobacco farm. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum pays tribute to this golden leaf crop that was largely responsible for rebuilding North Carolina after the Civil War. Tobacco continues to be the state's largest cash crop with almost 153,000 acres devoted to farming it.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly (exit 107 off of I-95) sits on a 5th generation working tobacco farm which gives the operation some major credibility when it comes to promoting its stated mission to "preserve the cultural heritage of the North Carolina rural family." Their 150-acre operation produces around 400,000 lbs of cured leaf tobacco, 80% of which is exported to Europe and Asia.
Watch the 15-minute introductory film, which rather than promoting tobacco use, covers the labor intensive process of modern tobacco farming. There are way more steps and chemicals involved in growing tobacco than one would imagine, but, in a nutshell, the plants get their greenhouse start from seed in mid-February while the soil is being prepped, go into the ground late April, and after four timed harvests, fill the curing barns in September. Modern practices have reduced labor from 900 man hrs/acre to 60 man hrs/acre.
The six-thousand square foot exhibition hall of the Tobacco Farm Life Museum is devoted to the life of the tobacco farmer between the years 1870-1940 with period artifacts including farm tools, textiles, household, and leisure items – giving you a historical window into a simpler time on an eastern North Carolina rural tobacco farm. Exhibits and dioramas highlight various aspects such as growing tobacco, soil conservation, tobacco warehousing, auctions, transportation, textiles, education, religion, and community life which helps you understand just how deep a cultural impact the crop has had on the state – no matter how you might feel about the end-product.