By: Noah Adams
Publication: National Public Radio
Around each curve in rural Kentucky, it seems, there’s another tobacco barn. Many of them are like old gentlemen — still handsome but kind of falling in on themselves. There was a time in Kentucky when November meant tobacco money. Burley tobacco for cigarettes, cash money for the farm. But now, many of the old warehouses are dark and cold. Auctioneers’ chants are audio of the past. In the early 1990s, there were about 60,000 tobacco farmers in Kentucky. Last year, there were about 10,000. Henry County along the Kentucky River is home to one of the remaining active barns. Smoke is in the air and Regina Sharp is hard at work stripping tobacco leaves. A visitor may find the smell to be lovely, but Sharp doesn’t share that sentiment. When it’s dry and the stove is going, your nose feels like it’s on fire, she says.
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