Our history

The dream

As a child, Benoit already dreamed of being a farmer. Although some tried to discourage him, his determination led him to forge his own path. After his secondary studies, he entered the agricultural sector thanks to training in agricultural production followed at the Center des Moissons de Beauharnois, then he acquired more than 20 years of expertise in the field. Self-taught, he was a scout in fruit and market gardening, technical service advisor on farms, consultant in agricultural business development, then teacher in horticultural production at the Center des Moissons and assistant to the management of agricultural services in companies.

Beginnings on the farm

In 2014, he and his former partner, Nancy Blanchette, discovered a few acres of fallow land on Napper Road in Hemmingford. On the property there was a house almost two hundred years old. With the aim of founding an organic blueberry farm based on pick-your-own and artisanal production, they moved there a few months later with their boys, Baptiste, Caleb and Jeremy.

Initially, only 4 of the 48 acres purchased were cultivable. Trees, roots and huge rocks had to be dislodged mechanically. In-depth field work was carried out to make these lands suitable for cultivation. For some soils, it was 4 years of work: manure amendments, green manure and fallow periods. The first 4,000 blueberry bushes were planted over a period of 3 years. Today, there are 6,500 plants growing on the 6.5 acres of the blueberry farm which obtained its organic certification by Ecocert Canada in 2017.

The organic blueberry challenge

The highbush blueberry loves rocky soil and forest cover, the symbiosis of fungi and bacteria. But its root system is fragile and the plant can quickly be smothered by weeds. This is the challenge of organic blueberries.

In conventional production, with herbicides, soil biodiversity is destroyed, the soil defense system is reduced and blueberries become more vulnerable to diseases. It is therefore necessary to apply fungicides and then add insecticides for pest control. Compared to the latter, an organic blueberry farm like that of Ferme Giroflée costs 15 to 20 times the price in labor and wood chips for weeding, but Benoît prefers to invest in job creation rather than in herbicides because it seeks to produce the best quality blueberries possible for human health and that of all living things.

8 to 10 years are estimated for the establishment of blueberries in the field and the achieving financial stability for a blueberry farm. This is mainly why we have very few in Quebec, especially organic, although demand is strong for delicious blue berries.

Community spirit

After an incubator in which he rented plots of land to aspiring market gardeners to allow experimentation with start-up agri-food projects, Benoit founded a collective and two trademarks with other farmers. The Collectif Giroflée is a group of Quebec artisanal market gardeners producing a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Integrated into the latter, the Collectif de Bleuets Bio Local is the only group of certified organic blueberries in Quebec. In 2018, Benoit won the first round of the Startup 54 Chrono competition for having presented the incubator and the collectives as a model of communalization for the marketing of organic products as a social economy enterprise, an idea that Benoit tends to implement with the members of the Collectif Giroflée.

Having a community spirit, Benoit also wants more rapprochement between humans and nature. For him, the community is the social fabric necessary for the creation of the socio-ecological transition. It carries a permacultural vision of the community which involves the culture of humans in synergy with ecology. Although they are no longer a couple, he and Nancy still form a strong team at Ferme Giroflée and their boys also take part in the business. During the high season, up to 25 employees, including foreign workers, are involved on the farm. And it's unanimous. This oasis located at the crossroads of Napper and Williams roads in Hemmingford is a pleasant place to spend time picking blueberries, eating organic produce and enjoying nature. La Ferme Giroflée is a haven of peace for all those looking to recharge their batteries during a sweet morning