The fertile valley area has been used since the 1880s to grow a variety of crops including hops and tobacco. A narrow-gauge railway was built between Wangaratta and Whitfield in 1889 and a government tobacco research farm was established in Edi and moved to Whitfield in 1902. Following the end of World War II, a large number of Italian, Yugoslav and Spanish migrants settled in the area and established tobacco farms. Following a decline in the tobacco industry in the late 70s, local farmers branched out into other crops such as chestnuts, hops and berries. In recent years, a number of vineyards have been established.