David Gislason was born December 22, 1941, in the Geysir district, near Arborg, Manitoba. In 1963, he and his wife Gladys purchased his parents’ farm where they continue to successfully produce grains, oilseeds and forage seeds. David pioneered the use of leafcutter bees in Manitoba for the pollination of alfalfa seed fields and was an early adopter of zero tillage in their area. Early in their farming careers, the Gislasons operated a dairy farm. In 1977 the dairy herd was sold to expand the forage seed enterprise.
David is a founding member and shareholder of Northstar Seeds Ltd., which today is a leading marketer of Manitoba forage seeds. He is also a founding member of the Manitoba Leafcutter Bee Association, the Manitoba Forage Seed Association and the Canadian Alfalfa Seed Council which he chaired from 1981 to 1984. He served for many years as a farmer representative on the forage committee of SeCan, a national organization which distributes seed stock of new varieties in Canada.
In addition to his substantial contributions to the forage seed industry, David has served his local community. He has been a municipal councillor and Reeve of the R.M. of Bifrost from 1986 to 1995, a member and chair of the Arborg Credit Union, a member of the Geysir Lutheran Church Council and president of the Ardal-Geysir Lutheran Church Council.
Provincially, David currently chairs the Manitoba Farm Products Marketing Council and chaired the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI) from 2001 to 2008. He also co-chairs the Manitoba Agri-Food Development Council. He earns praise for his wisdom and fair mindedness in these roles.
David and Gladys have two daughters: Kathy and Shelly. Between 1981 and 1994 the Gislasons acted as a Host Family for the International Agricultural Exchange Association, opening their home to young people from around the world.
Icelandic culture is very important to David, and he has participated in a host of cultural events. He is exceptionally well read in Icelandic and English which shows in his choice of words and sense of judgment. He is chair of the Esjan Chapter of the Icelandic League of North America. He served as chair of the Millennium 125 Commission, representing the Icelandic-Canadian cultural community in planning and coordinating millennium celebrations. In 2000, he received the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon from Iceland’s President.
In 2000, David and Gladys were the Red River Exhibition’s Manitoba Farm Family of the Year. In 2008, David was awarded the Order of Manitoba, the province’s highest honour, for his dedicated leadership locally, provincially and nationally to agriculture and to his Icelandic heritage.