At Rosebank Seed Farms Ltd we are a family owned business that
grows and processes many different kinds of pedigree seed. Some of the different kinds of seeds we process
are Oats, Barley, Wheat, Soybeans, Edible Beans and Popcorn. We retail other products such as Seed Corn,
Grass seed and Inoculants to farmers in many areas. We also sell to a large number of farm supply dealers in
a wide area, supplying them with different products to round out their lineup. Soybeans is our largest volume
of products processed, as we process for other seed companies and also process soybeans for export into food
markets in countries such as Japan.
Popcorn is also grown, processed, and sold as well. What started
out as a hobby, has now grown into a business with sales increasing each year.
About Us – By Lorne Fell
I joined the Mitchell Boys and Girls Grain Club in the spring of
1947. The club was sponsored by the Mitchell Agricultural
Society. The agricultural society supplied each member of the
club with two bushels of registered seed.
That was just after the Second World War, and new varieties of
seed were available. We had a choice of Galore or Barboff
barley. I chose Galore and planted it on one acre of
land. The assistant agricultural representative for Perth
County, George McLaughlin, was our leader, but his father died in September, and George went home to manage
the family dairy farm at Oshawa. So, our agricultural
representative, Ralph White, judged the one-bushel sample of grain that we were required to show at the
Mitchell Fall Fair to complete the club.
I placed second, so I was eligible to compete at the Royal
Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. At that competition, I
placed second again. I thought, if my grain placed second at the Royal, it must be good seed, so I cleaned it
up and sold it for seed.
I was in the grain club for six years, and we received two bushels
of a new variety each year. I would clean it and sell it for
seed. After I was out of the grain club, people would still ask
if I had seed for sale, so we would plant a field of straight barley and sell some of it for seed.
In 1960 I took over the farm and started to grow more
seed. I would take it to a custom seed-cleaning plant to have it
cleaned and treated. In 1968 I purchased a seed cleaner and
mixer, and in the spring of 1969 started processing my own seed.
I mixed the oats and barley together because most farmers wanted to plant mixed grain.
During the 1960s, I competed in a number of places, including
London’s Western Fair, Perth County Ag Week and the London Farm Show. In 1966 I started competing in the seed
section at the Royal in Toronto. The competition was open to samples from around the world. I didn’t win a
world championship until 1982, when I won it for soybeans. I received a silver tray, $100 (in later years
that was increased to $500) and a framed photo taken at the time of the presentation.
During the next years, I won 23 world championships, and I now
have 23 silver trays to keep polished! I won four of them in 1989, one for pedigreed oats and one for
pedigreed white beans. Those samples had to be drawn from a cleaned pedigreed lot of grain of 100 bushels or
more. The other two were for oats and soybeans in the open classes, which are handpicked samples. I am the
only competitor to win four world championships in one year. The seed competition at the Royal was
discontinued in 2001.
My son Roger, has also won world championships – five in all. He
now is the fifth generation to own the farm, which since 1985 has been Rosebank Seed Farms Ltd. We sell
cereals, soybeans, white beans, forage seed and corn seed. The seed plant operation is now the main part of
the farm business.
Next Generation – By Roger Fell
I graduated from Centralia college in 1989 and took over the farm
in 1994. Since then the farm has grown in size, with lots of
grain storage and buildings added. In 2011 a brand new state of the art seed plant and offices were built to
replace the seed plant built in 1968. This increased our
cleaning capacity from what took 8 hours to do , we can now do in 1 hr. I thought this would free up some time, but now we are back to just as busy
as before, which is good. Someday, maybe the next generation
will take over the business and I can watch them grow the business, as I have.
My father Lorne, is 84 years old and still comes to the farm every
day looking after the popcorn business and does the grading of samples. In the busy seasons, he operates the farm equipment for planting and
harvesting. Myself and my wife Jennifer, have six boys, who
hopefully will take the business over and continue to be involved in agriculture.