Scarborough's last farming family has tilled land for two centuries

Community Aug 02, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Scarborough was once covered in farms, and now there’s one farmer left.

Dale Reesor says he’s proud to be part of a family which has grown food in the area for over 200 years and depended on God throughout.

“I am grateful for this, and I am thankful that God still provides,” Reesor told neighbours and members of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance recently.

The group was there to honour him, his wife Lois and their five children as a Canada 150 Farm Family, giving the Reesors a marker to put in their yard facing Steeles Avenue.

The family already has something beside the road proving they were there in the Year of Confederation – a white oak tree marking the birth of Thomas Reesor, born in 1867 and Dale Reesor’s great-grandfather.

Thomas was the first person born on the property, Lots 1 and 2, Concession 5, Scarborough, which the Crown deeded to the family in 1812.

Farming today is more efficient than his great-grandfather could have dreamed, but requires business acumen and marketing, said Reesor, a sixth-generation farmer who took over from father George in 1986.

Federal and provincial governments expropriated tens of thousands of acres of Markham, Scarborough and Pickering in the 1970s for an airport and city which were never built.

Many farmers disappeared rather than lease the land, Reesor said, “but we’re still here.”

Reesor’s 140-acre home farm was rented to the family through a provincial agency until it was put into Rouge Park and transferred to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

The new Rouge National Urban Park includes plenty of farmland, mostly in Markham, and promises longer-term leases for farmers.

The park’s combination of nature, agriculture and aboriginal culture, found nowhere else in Canada, is something that captures the imagination, said Pam Veinotte, its superintendent.

“It’s the farming community that’s given this place a sense of family, a sense of community, and a sense of lived-in landscape,” she said.

These days, Reesor has 100 acres of sweet corn, wheat, soy, cattle corn and radishes on the Scarborough property, not far east of the road bearing his family name.

He works 900 acres in all.

Other farmers still have land in Scarborough, but Jim Murison, who also lived there, passed away last year, Reesor said. “Since he’s gone, I guess I’m the only one left.”

Like other farmers near cities, Reesor avoids moving equipment on roads when traffic is heavy. “Rush hour is the worst.”

Despite the headaches, Reesor’s three oldest children are interested in being a seventh generation on the land, and the family still offers customers food grown in Scarborough.

“They really appreciate that. We’re enthusiastic about what we’re doing.”

Coming from a small town in Virginia, Lois Reesor said she laments to her husband sometimes his farm doesn’t have much privacy.

Then again, she said, “I realize the rich history and heritage he has in Canada,” and the excellent market the Reesors have at their door.

“You have to be tenacious, and he’s been very successful.”

Scarborough's last farming family has tilled land for two centuries

Dale Reesor family is sixth generation - and counting

Community Aug 02, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Scarborough was once covered in farms, and now there’s one farmer left.

Dale Reesor says he’s proud to be part of a family which has grown food in the area for over 200 years and depended on God throughout.

“I am grateful for this, and I am thankful that God still provides,” Reesor told neighbours and members of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance recently.

The group was there to honour him, his wife Lois and their five children as a Canada 150 Farm Family, giving the Reesors a marker to put in their yard facing Steeles Avenue.

Related Content

The family already has something beside the road proving they were there in the Year of Confederation – a white oak tree marking the birth of Thomas Reesor, born in 1867 and Dale Reesor’s great-grandfather.

Thomas was the first person born on the property, Lots 1 and 2, Concession 5, Scarborough, which the Crown deeded to the family in 1812.

Farming today is more efficient than his great-grandfather could have dreamed, but requires business acumen and marketing, said Reesor, a sixth-generation farmer who took over from father George in 1986.

Federal and provincial governments expropriated tens of thousands of acres of Markham, Scarborough and Pickering in the 1970s for an airport and city which were never built.

Many farmers disappeared rather than lease the land, Reesor said, “but we’re still here.”

Reesor’s 140-acre home farm was rented to the family through a provincial agency until it was put into Rouge Park and transferred to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

The new Rouge National Urban Park includes plenty of farmland, mostly in Markham, and promises longer-term leases for farmers.

The park’s combination of nature, agriculture and aboriginal culture, found nowhere else in Canada, is something that captures the imagination, said Pam Veinotte, its superintendent.

“It’s the farming community that’s given this place a sense of family, a sense of community, and a sense of lived-in landscape,” she said.

These days, Reesor has 100 acres of sweet corn, wheat, soy, cattle corn and radishes on the Scarborough property, not far east of the road bearing his family name.

He works 900 acres in all.

Other farmers still have land in Scarborough, but Jim Murison, who also lived there, passed away last year, Reesor said. “Since he’s gone, I guess I’m the only one left.”

Like other farmers near cities, Reesor avoids moving equipment on roads when traffic is heavy. “Rush hour is the worst.”

Despite the headaches, Reesor’s three oldest children are interested in being a seventh generation on the land, and the family still offers customers food grown in Scarborough.

“They really appreciate that. We’re enthusiastic about what we’re doing.”

Coming from a small town in Virginia, Lois Reesor said she laments to her husband sometimes his farm doesn’t have much privacy.

Then again, she said, “I realize the rich history and heritage he has in Canada,” and the excellent market the Reesors have at their door.

“You have to be tenacious, and he’s been very successful.”

Scarborough's last farming family has tilled land for two centuries

Dale Reesor family is sixth generation - and counting

Community Aug 02, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Scarborough was once covered in farms, and now there’s one farmer left.

Dale Reesor says he’s proud to be part of a family which has grown food in the area for over 200 years and depended on God throughout.

“I am grateful for this, and I am thankful that God still provides,” Reesor told neighbours and members of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance recently.

The group was there to honour him, his wife Lois and their five children as a Canada 150 Farm Family, giving the Reesors a marker to put in their yard facing Steeles Avenue.

Related Content

The family already has something beside the road proving they were there in the Year of Confederation – a white oak tree marking the birth of Thomas Reesor, born in 1867 and Dale Reesor’s great-grandfather.

Thomas was the first person born on the property, Lots 1 and 2, Concession 5, Scarborough, which the Crown deeded to the family in 1812.

Farming today is more efficient than his great-grandfather could have dreamed, but requires business acumen and marketing, said Reesor, a sixth-generation farmer who took over from father George in 1986.

Federal and provincial governments expropriated tens of thousands of acres of Markham, Scarborough and Pickering in the 1970s for an airport and city which were never built.

Many farmers disappeared rather than lease the land, Reesor said, “but we’re still here.”

Reesor’s 140-acre home farm was rented to the family through a provincial agency until it was put into Rouge Park and transferred to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

The new Rouge National Urban Park includes plenty of farmland, mostly in Markham, and promises longer-term leases for farmers.

The park’s combination of nature, agriculture and aboriginal culture, found nowhere else in Canada, is something that captures the imagination, said Pam Veinotte, its superintendent.

“It’s the farming community that’s given this place a sense of family, a sense of community, and a sense of lived-in landscape,” she said.

These days, Reesor has 100 acres of sweet corn, wheat, soy, cattle corn and radishes on the Scarborough property, not far east of the road bearing his family name.

He works 900 acres in all.

Other farmers still have land in Scarborough, but Jim Murison, who also lived there, passed away last year, Reesor said. “Since he’s gone, I guess I’m the only one left.”

Like other farmers near cities, Reesor avoids moving equipment on roads when traffic is heavy. “Rush hour is the worst.”

Despite the headaches, Reesor’s three oldest children are interested in being a seventh generation on the land, and the family still offers customers food grown in Scarborough.

“They really appreciate that. We’re enthusiastic about what we’re doing.”

Coming from a small town in Virginia, Lois Reesor said she laments to her husband sometimes his farm doesn’t have much privacy.

Then again, she said, “I realize the rich history and heritage he has in Canada,” and the excellent market the Reesors have at their door.

“You have to be tenacious, and he’s been very successful.”