The Gibbs family began buying, selling, and processing wild rice decades ago in northern Minnesota, the heartland of wild rice. In 1903 W. J. Gibbs started buying wild rice from the local Sioux and Ojibway people.
The wild rice was hand-picked and processed in deerskin-lined pits dug between two trees. A pole used for balance rested between the trees, providing stability for the Sioux and Ojibway as moccasined feet jigged across the rice, grinding the grain to loosen the hulls. The rice was tossed into the air from winnowing baskets to remove the debris and hulls. Next the rice was roasted over a wood fire. The processed rice was bagged in heavy burlap coffee sacks.
W.J. Gibbs transported the finished rice by wagon nearly 40 miles and shipped the product by rail to Minneapolis. Stanley J. Gibbs left his job in a Minneapolis munitions plant and took over the business from his father in 1944 and started buying green rice to sell to local mills for processing.
During the 1970s and 1980s, more consumers became interested in the nutritional value of wild rice. In 1972 two of Stanley´s sons, Darrow and Delano, built the largest wild rice processing plant at the time in Deer River, MN. In 1982 the Gibbs family established a processing and marketing plant in northern California’s Sacramento Valley as California rice farmers devoted more acreage to its cultivation.
Today family members still own and operate the plant in Live Oak, California, near the Sutter Buttes, the world´s smallest mountain range. Larry and Cheryl (Gibbs) Erickson continue to provide quality wild rice products for retail sales as well as food service and industrial/wholesale buyers.