For the freshest and tastiest vegetables, it pays to deal directly with market gardeners. Innovative agricultural initiatives pop up across the province, but often get overlooked. They prove that it’s possible to cultivate within the restrictions of our climate and to facilitate access to farmland. Is growing organic vegetables and buying them local becoming a trend in Québec?
The family farmers comes into play
We find their vegetables at our local farmer’s market, or get them by way of an organic-vegetable basket program like the one offered by Équiterre. Consuming organic products is an established trend in Québec. According to a survey conducted in 2017, half of Quebecers have introduced organic foods into their eating habits, one in five of them on a daily basis – an enthusiasm reflected in Équiterre’s organic basket program: a growth of about ten percent a year over the last three years.
When you meet the person who grows your vegetables, a whole new relationship with food evolves. You know where it comes from, you learn how to cook with the varieties appropriate to the climate and to the harvest cycle, you eat vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides, and you pay up to seventeen percent less than their equivalent at the grocery store.*
“There’s no need [to be eating] chemicals when we eat vegetables,” said Jean-Martin Fortier of Ferme des Quatre-Temps when he appeared on the TV show Tout le monde en parle on March 25, 2018. “We’re capable of doing otherwise, and we have a whole generation that wants to.”
Working within the restrictions of our climate
Vegetables with no chemical input at Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan? Oh yes. On the site of the cooperative Le Grenier Boréal, members use creativity and perseverance to grow “with” limitations like cold winds and shortened seasons. Adjustable protective microtunnels, flower covered mounds to attract the pollinators that are essential for certain crops, a pond teeming with biodiversity: the landscape of the site is diversified and so are the products and activities grown and presented there. Moreover, the cooperative earned the Prix Action David Suzuki last year, the benefits for the environment and for people on a local scale comprising a testament to resilience.
Sharing your plot of land
Over the past year, the initiatives Banque de terre and Banque de fermes joined together under the name L’Arterre, a program currently being deployed across the province. The aim is to match up aspiring farmers and farm owners. This way, aspiring farmers can, depending on the size of their projects and their needs, rent a piece of land unused by an owner, or purchase an agricultural asset (a building, a company…). This is a way of making access to land easier, allowing the next generation to be part of the sustainable future of Québec’s seriously threatened agricultural heritage.
The agricultural landscape in Québec is going through changes. With initiatives like these we can hope to take back a certain degree of control over our land, while at the same time helping the local economy thrive. But the up-and-coming generation of farmers needs consumers to fuel the movement. As you make the switch to products grown in Québec, fresh or processed, you could be the next longed-for citizen eater!