Almost 65 years ago, a few ducks, a few chickens, and a stall at the North York farmer’s market was the beginning of what would become Canada’s premium farm to fork duck farm just north of Toronto. The farm has a rich history, as founder Jim Murby built the business armed with one important piece of market intel from the farmer’s market: no other stalls had ducks! He, his wife Marg and their four children built the business flock by flock, creating whatever was needed to breed, hatch, raise, and process ducks; everything was built and engineered from scratch.
Fun Fact: 1952 – the Murbys find a boiler for their first plant. The challenge: it was attached to the original Maid-of-the-Mist, Niagara Falls, and in order to complete the purchase the boiler, it had to be hauled off the boat and up the Niagara Gorge by rope-and-pulley, then loaded on a flat-bed truck for the slow drive back to Newmarket by 16-year-old, now President and Owner, Bob Murby!
Today, the farm to fork duck business is owned by Bob Murby and his sister Joanne Grant but operated by third generation duck farmers, Jim Murby’s four granddaughters whose farming philosophy is to produce duck products that are natural, farmed using grain fed diet, fresh air, clean deep well water, and tender loving care for the flocks and the products. Their commitment to sustainability runs throughout the operation from the composted manure that is sold to garden centres as a natural soil enhancement to the feathers that are sold overseas for pillows and clothing. Their new farm fresh store welcomes visitors seven days a week with an opportunity to get ducks fresh daily, and try specialty duck products that range from rendered duck fat to duck burgers. Once a month duck school brings guests from all over Ontario who are treated to a delicious evening of “how to” combined with a duck-u-cation of how the family and their staff farm, and what buying local means to the food Ontarian’s enjoy.
In the late 1980s, Don and John decided to streamline. So they sold the dairy herd and focused all their attention on mastering growing and selling potatoes. The farm acquired a third full-time farmer when John’s son R.J. joined them in 1994. In 2000, the product line was expanded with the acquisition of a new peeling line which provides customers with fresh peeled potatoes and fries. They began selling their crop at the Ontario Food Terminal in 2004. This eventually led to the buying and resale of fresh produce to restaurants and at the farm door.