Our history

The dream

As a child, Benoit already dreamed of being a farmer. Although some tried to discourage him, his perseverance and 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 Centre des Moissons at Beauharnois. He then entered the profession by working with competent agronomists and, like a good self-taught man, he undertook the study of research documents.

Having acquired expertise over more than 20 years in the field, Benoit has been a scout in fruit and market gardening, an advisor in technical service on farms, a consultant in agricultural business development, a teacher in horticultural production at Centre des Moissons where he was trained and then deputy director of agricultural services in the company.

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 built in 1830. With the aim of establishing an organic blueberry farm based on pick-your-own and artisanal production, they moved there a few months later with their 3 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 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.

Vegetables, berries and living laboratory

However, Ferme Giroflée is much more than an organic blueberry farm. Several cultivars of peppers, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers have managed to carve out a place for themselves in our fields in recent years in addition to mini-eggplant and cucamelon. Each year, different varieties are tested for the pleasure of our taste buds, our eyes and for our good health.

Ferme Giroflée was designed as a living laboratory for socio-environmental transition, from the foundation. There was the incubator project in which Benoit rented pieces of land to aspiring market gardeners to allow the experimentation of start-up agri-food projects, then he founded with other farmers the Collectif Giroflée, a group of artisanal market gardeners producing a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, and the Collectif de Bleuets Bio Local with Quebec blueberries. Its incubator project and its ideal of a collective as a model of communalization for the marketing of organic products as a social economy enterprise allowed it to win the first round of the competition Startup 54 Chrono in 2018.

Quietly, new people integrate into the farm, a space where creation, arts and science combine to make way for the realization of new ideas.

Community spirit

Having a community spirit, Benoit also wants more rapprochement between humans and nature. For him, the community is the social fabric necessary for the co-creation of the socio-ecological transition. It carries a permacultural vision of the community which involves the culture of humans in synergy with the environment. Although they are no longer a couple, he and Nancy remain strong pillars for Ferme Giroflée and a multidisciplinary team grows year after year.

The objective is now to develop co-construction projects on the site combining different initiatives for and by the community. And it's unanimous. This oasis located at the crossroads of Williams and Napper roads in Hemmingford is a most pleasant place to spend a little time, whether picking blueberries, learning to eat well, learning about organic farming or enjoying nature. A haven of peace for all those looking to recharge their batteries during a sweet morning.