Port Williams family building on farming legacy dating back to 1761

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on November 9, 2016

Geneve Newcombe and her youngest son, David Newcombe, recently met with Kings County News to talk about Cornwallis Farms Ltd., a business that builds upon a farming legacy started by the Newcombe family’s ancestors in 1761.

Ashley Thompson

PORT WILLIAMS, NS - David Newcombe would choose a 14-hour day on the farm over eight hours in a boardroom any day of the week.

The 24-year-old is a tenth generation farmer with Cornwallis Farms Ltd. in Port Williams. He works alongside his father, Craig Newcombe, and uncle to learn the ins and outs of running the family business.

“I enjoy it. I couldn’t spend the whole day working in an office. I like being outside and working with my dog running around me,” said David.

“It’s a lifestyle.”

Newcombe assists with every aspect of the family business, including crop rotation, the on-farm feed mill, laying hens, broiler chickens and dairy cows. He knows full well there are days – some beginning at 3:30 a.m. – when every waking hour will be dedicated to farm chores.

And he takes pride in that.

“Everything you do has a purpose,” he said, his face lighting up at the mention of farming.

As a young boy with two siblings, David dreamed of one day running the very farm that was their playground as children. He fondly remembers launching golf balls into wide, open fields that made for great driving ranges, and building hay forts out of square bails after long days of haying.

It took only eight months in Halifax following high school for David to realize that he wanted to return home, and take on an important role at the family farms after completing his Bachelor of Commerce degree at Saint Mary’s University.

“You have to be passionate about it,” said David.

“If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to commit to it and you’ve got to enjoy it. It’s a hard lifestyle if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.”

David’s mother, Geneve Newcombe, joked that her children never complained about being bored because they knew their parents could always find something for them to do.

“I love it. I think the farm is a wonderful place to raise children. They got lots of exposure to outside,” she said, noting that her kids are now 26, 24 and 20.

“There were a lot of life lessons learned here and, even though they all haven’t come back to the farm, the work ethic and the other skills they’ve learned here they’ve absolutely been able to use those in their chosen career paths.”

Newcombe married her husband, a ninth generation farmer, in 1988. She’s proud of

to be a part of a family tradition that began in 1761.

“To farm some of the same lands for over 200 years if you want those lands to still be productive, you’ve got to be taking care of them,” she said.

“We still own part of the original land grant that the Newcombe family received when they came as New England Planters.”

The Newcombe’s farming operation is currently one of three finalists being considered for an Environmental Farm Award, and the Institute of Agrologists presented Cornwallis Farms Ltd. with an Outstanding Farmer Award.

Animal care and ingenuity are top priorities at Cornwallis Farms. Geneve estimates that the farms are roughly 90 per cent self sufficient when it comes to feed as a result of the on-farm feed mill.

“You have to continually reinvest and update to continue to grow,” she said, adding that the supply management system helps farmers feel confident enough to put both time and money into their businesses.

“If you have livestock it’s not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; it’s not Monday to Friday.”

With 21,000 laying hens, Geneve said Cornwallis Farms is producing roughly 20,000 eggs each day. They recently teamed up with Atlantic Poultry Inc. to be able to supply local food banks and the Port Williams Elementary School with free eggs.

“We feel as individuals we all have an obligation to get involved and help make things better,” said Geneve, who serves as the chairperson of the Egg Farmers Association of Nova Scotia.

“We are donating all of the eggs that the school needs for the coming year and Atlantic Poultry Inc. is donating the grading of those eggs.”

The donation is one way of giving back to a community that’s given her children so much, Geneve said.

“They really learned the value of hard work, the value of doing a job well.”