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.

The Bicentenary

In 2014, he and his former partner, Nancy Blanchette, discovered a few acres of fallow land on Napper Road in Hemmingford and on which was a property built in 1830. First in stone, a cladding in ocher painted wooden shingles and a red sheet metal roof adorned the bicentenary, then the barn adjacent to the west wall of the house was kept in natural wood.

A rumor circulates in the region that this house was built by John Gill Napper (1777-1858), an Irish descendant who immigrated in the 19th century and whose 150 acres of land Crown would have been granted to him, which would have inspired the toponymy of the path bearing the same name. The tombstone of this man is also one of the only ones remaining in the abandoned St. Paul's Anglican Cemetery, an ancient place of worship hidden somewhere in the bush less than a kilometer from 753 Napper Road.

And so, with the aim of founding an organic blueberry farm based on self-picking and artisanal production, Nancy, Benoit and their 3 boys, Baptiste, Caleb and Jeremy, moved in. in this house a few months later.

Beginnings on the Farm

Initially, only 4 of the 48 acres of Ferme Giroflée 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 design of the development was carried out with the idea of ​​respecting the balance of the natural ecosystem. A portion of the land was maintained and another created as wetlands and the majority of the land remained forested. On the market gardening side, 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

Nevertheless, 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 (commonly called mouse melon). Each year, different varieties are tested for the pleasure of our taste buds, our eyes and for the benefit of our good health.

La Giroflée was also designed as a living laboratory for socio-environmental transition. First there was the incubator project in which we rented plots of land to restaurateurs and aspiring market gardeners in order to allow the experimentation of start-up agri-food projects, then came theCollectif Giroflée, a group of artisanal market gardeners producing a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, and the >Local Organic Bleuets Collective with organic Quebec blueberries. The incubator project and the ideal of the collective as a model of communalization for the marketing of organic products as a social economy enterprise allowed us to win the first round of the competitionStartup 54 Chrono in 2018.

The 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-construction of the socio-ecological transition. It carries a permacultural vision of the community which involves the cultivation of humans in synergy with the environment.

Although they are no longer a couple, he and Nancy remain solid pillars for Ferme Giroflée and a multidisciplinary team grows year after year. The objective is now to co-construct new projects on the site through various initiatives made for and by the community. A space where co-creation, arts and science combine to make way for the realization of new ideas.

And it is unanimous, this oasis located at the crossroads of Williams and Napper roads in the Township of Hemmingford is a most pleasant place to spend a little time, whether it is picking blueberries and other varieties, learning how to eat well, learning about agroecology or taking the opportunity to take a dip in nature. La Ferme Giroflée is undoubtedly a haven of peace for all those looking to recharge their batteries during a sweet morning.