A year ago this Father’s Day, hundreds of people gathered to say good-bye to David Reibling, the “Gentle Giant” loved and appreciated by his family and the founder of Oak Manor Farms Organic Mill. Deeply rooted in his farming community in Oxford County, ON, David Reibling’s influence also extends globally as the co-founder of organic farming certification programs in North America and worldwide.
As one of the first farmers in Canada to go organic, David understood what it was to be a true pioneer, and he helped paved the way for an organic industry that is thriving today. David’s efforts in establishing his own organic growing operation were monumental. His son Perry remembers, “I was always amazed at the knowledge my father had about how soil responded, and at his ability to grow organic crops. And he was very innovative. His knowledge of machinery was extensive – he could make anything work!”
When David began his organic milling operation in 1975 this marked the beginning of the processing and marketing of organic grains in Ontario. He also sourced organic grain producers in Western Canada, and would personally visit each farm to ensure that the products they supplied to his mill were grown according to his own exacting standards.
As an early visionary in the organics industry, David saw the need for standardized, independent certification for organics. He brought together like minded farmers scattered throughout Ontario to form the OCCP, which is now Pro-Cert, one of North America’s foremost national certifiers of organic products. He was also a founding board member of the Organic Trade Association of North America (formerly OFPANA) and of the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA).
David is remembered fondly by his wife Anne, his daughters Shelley, Teresa and Allison, his son Perry, and five grandchildren. His wife Anne and his daughter Allison continue to work at Oak Manor and his son Perry now manages the operation.