Ontario family grows 'corn-erstone' of any movie night

Popcorn is the 'corn-erstone' of any movie night, and the Townsend family in Walsingham, Ont. have been growing the specialty crop for over three decades

"We started the popcorn business in 1985," says Blair Townsend, who took over the family farm from his father.

Traditionally it was a tobacco farm and still produced that crop until 2008. Popping corn was grown on the side until that point, when Blair and wife Lyvia made the switch full time.

"At the time I said I’d give it five years, and within that five years I could see there was real possibilities," says Blair.

Popping corn is a niche crop according to Lyvia

"Very few, very few. We are the largest in Ontario as far as the studies have gone and what they research we are the largest in Ontario, actually the largest in Canada, I believe, in growing popping corn."

One of the misconceptions the family hears often is that it’s just like normal field corn, and according to Mitchell Townsend, that might be true at first look, but as the plant develops the cobs are more slender and the kernels take on a more rounded shape…and are much harder.

"With field corn, you could take it and bite it, and you will bite through it. With our popping corn you might break a tooth."

Ontario Popping Corn is the company name, but it’s brand 'Uncle Bob's Popcorn' was selected to be featured in Loblaws 'local' program at the start of 2021.

The program features made-in-Ontario products, and 'Uncle Bob's' is continuing to add to the offerings.

"We’ve got our dill [pickle seasoning, our salt 'n vinegar seasoning, our rainbow jars, and organic butterfly corn as well," says Tanner Townsend.

The company also sells wholesale to other companies and specializes in different coloured kernels that have different textures and tastes depending on the variety.