Pieter D. Buis
Pieter and Margaret were married on May 19th, 1953 in Holland and that is when their adventure began. On May 22nd, 3 days after they were married, they left their home, family and friends and moved to Canada. Pieter and Margaret started working on a farm in St. Catharines and never looked back. They purchased their first farm, Glenlake Orchards in 1957. Over the years they have grown and expanded. They started off growing a variety of commodities including cherries, peaches, tomatoes, strawberries and even pigs. Everyone had pigs back then. Grapes were planted on the farm in the early 1980’s beginning a whole new career for Pieter as an award winning amateur wine maker.
Pieter is an entrepreneur. He worked at growing and marketing his produce and embraced new technology and best farming practices. He brought a lot of the technology they used on the farm from Europe. He was the first to introduce a Perry self- propelled cherry trunk shaker. He was also the first to introduce growing peaches in grass. Glenlake Orchards was one of the first to wash and wax peaches and used a panta pac for packing and shipping. They also installed a high humidity cooler for their peaches. He used a narrow tractor with a mower on the front and a sprayer on the back. Pieter introduced concentrate sprayer technology as a best farming practice. Glenlake Orchards is now the proud owner of a grape harvester with a destemmer. Pieter has never been afraid of moving forward and improving.
Pieter humbly admits that it is not only his hard work, energy and talents that have made his farm successful. His wife, Margaret and children Peter, Kevin and Janine contributed to the success. Peter was the first to join the farm partnership, followed by Kevin. Janine and her husband and children live in New York.
Pieter realized there is more to life than just farming and that it is important to be involved in farm organizations and your community. Pieter was vice chair and later chair of the Niagara Peninsula Fruit and Vegetable Growers – Virgil Unit. He later became vice chair and chair of the Niagara Peninsula Fruit and Vegetable Growers. He worked on several committees for the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers and held the position of Vice Chair. Pieter also realized the importance of representing agriculture as a whole and served as president of the Niagara North Federation of Agriculture for 3 years. He also was the local federation representative in Toronto at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Pieter was the vice chair of the Fresh Fruit Board. When the Fresh Fruit Board amalgamated with the processing board forming the Ontario Tender Fruit Marketing Board, Pieter was elected to the board and later became Chair. Pieter has served as a member of the farm credit appeal board and the grape pull out program. Because of his involvement and dedication to agriculture, Pieter received many awards including becoming an honorary member of the Ontario Institute of Professional Agrologists. Pieter has had the honour of meeting the Prince of the Netherlands while representing Niagara and has dined with the Queen of England.
Pieter realized early in life that there is more to life than just agriculture. He was a hockey coach for the Niagara minor hockey association. He coached both tykes and juvenile. He was also on the Niagara township parks and recreation committee. He was instrumental in the amalgamation of the Niagara Township and Niagara on the Lake. Pieter also threw his hat in and ran for a position on the municipal council.
At the age of 57 Pieter learned to play golf. He realized that at some point his career as a farmer would come to an end and that he would need something to do when he was no longer the boss. In 1998, at the age of 67, he retired, handing the business over to his sons Peter and Kevin. This gave Pieter and Margaret a chance to travel, do the yard work and enjoy their 11 grandchildren.