1943 - The Beginning
Delton Reibling finds a stand of majestic oak trees. Knowing it takes fertile quality land to support oaks like these, he purchased the 180 acres and establishes, for its time, a modern dairy operation and cash crop farm.
1940's - 1950's - Innovative Farming
Delton developed a seed cleaning operation for neighbouring farmers and was the first to bring electricity to the immediate rural area. He also became a leader in introducing chemical farming.
1960's Growth and The Fire
In 1963 the dairy operation burned never to be rebuilt. Delton and son Dave continue cash cropping and seed cleaning along with custom grain and corn drying. The farming operation grew to 1200 acres which was a massive farm for Ontario in those days.
1970's The Organic Revolution
Delton and Dave began to notice the soil was changing with continuous chemical use and mono cropping corn. Not for the better! They observed fewer earthworms and less organic matter in the soil which gives crops their nutrition. This lead to more erosion. After much soul searching a decision to return the farm to its simple roots. Organic production. After all, every farm was organic until the chemical farming revolution. This went against every trend of the day. They certainly raised eyebrows and endured a snicker or sneer or two. The challenge was to go back to old world methods and yet maintain scientific principals. The farm size was reduced to 450 acres. It needed to be a more manageable size for the extra work and learning curve. It was going to take time to build the soil back to life. Weed control was the biggest hurdle. Today the technology available to organic farms is much more advanced than at that time.
In 1975 the flour milling operation was born. Oak Manor needed a market to sell their healthy grains so value added was the way to go. Enter the stone mill and sifter! Everything harvested from the farm was milled at the new mill facility. At this time markets were limited to fringe movements but there was a demand for clean food. Demand soon grew to the point that new sources of organic crops were needed. There were other organic farms starting to crop up around the country at that time who could supply the extra demand. Seeing a need to offer an organic guarantee, Dave introduces an in house organic certification program to guarantee the organic authenticity of the grains we were purchasing. He personally visited every farm we purchased from. You can certainly see a pioneering spirit theme at work here in Oak Manors' history.
1980's More Growth, Organic Certification
Enter the 1980's. The farm remains the same size but markets continue to grow. Multiple distributors and natural food stores are popping up. More equipment is being added to the operation for processing products such as our own line of oats and other flaked cereals.
Seeing the conflict of interest by certifying our own product as being organic, Dave saw the need for 3rd party independent organic certification. He worked hard with a group of other concerned farmers to develop and birth such agencies as OFPANA (now the Organic Trade Association) and OCIA (Organic Crop improvement association) which certifies organic farms. These were basically farmer run operations in their early stages.
Juggling farming, processing and the demands of sitting on various agencies involved with the growth of the industry, as well helping to write organic standards. Time was at a premium. The decision to reduce the acreage to 186 acres was made in the late 80's.
1990's More Growth and Focus
Dave was a founding member of OCPP (Organic Crop Producers and Processors), now Pro Cert Organic Systems. The mandate of this organization was to be a corporate third party organic certifying agency that included processors and distributors along with farms, who had been the primary focus of organic certification until this point. Later in the decade Dave was asked to sit on the government board which developed consistent national standards for organics. The standards you now know as "Canada Organic".
The 90's were also a time of transition. The industry was continuing to grow. There needed to be focus. So the gut wrenching decision to sell the farm was made. Oak Manor was no longer involved in the farming aspect of organics. Although still at the original location, the focus was on milling, marketing and developing the industry. With the number of organic farms in the local area it was easy to source enough organic commodity.
2000's to Modern Day
The organic industry has grown into the main stream. We needed to find a way to remain relevant as a small processor. We have carved a niche for ourselves as a small artisan mill focused on local, quality and relationships with our growers and suppliers. The local food movement is a growing trend and consumers have become more savvy. Although not everything that Oak Manor offers is locally grown, we do remain committed to Ontario local or Canadian for our main grains such as wheat, oats, barley, spelt, rye, and corn. Some specialty items and grains are sourced through brokers and can be sourced from anywhere around the world.
Today we remain a family owned and operated business. We are proud of our pioneering roots and to carry on the Reibling tradition.
Oak Manor remains committed to the belief that organics is better for the earth!