Local farmer recognized for low waste operation
On November 24, a vegetable farmer from the region received a $1,500 bursary and an honourable mention for demonstrating excellent envrionmental practices with his business - as part of the Financière agricole du Québec’s 15th annual Tournez-vous vers l’excellence! contest. According to a press release issued by the Financière agricole du Québec on the same date, Our Little Farm earned the sustainable development award (prix en développement durable) thanks to its exemplary environmental work methods. Including practicing zero-waste production, it explained that the farm provides organic vegetable baskets aiming to reduce carbon footprint, boasts a welcoming kiosk intending to augment to access to fresh local produce, and provides equitable wages to its employees.
For co-owner and operator of Our Little Farm, James Thompson, the recognition came as a delightful surprise considering how much his family emphasizes providing health food for locals without producing waste. “We’re very happy to have recognition of that,” Thompson said. “Local is very important lately, especially during the pandemic. You see how agile supply chains need to be. So, I think very very important for us to focus on.”
Located in Lochaber-Partie-Ouest (approximately 50 km northeast of Gatineau), the farm notably specializes in growing organic vegetables, and selling bundles in basket to approximately 400 clients – mostly local families. While some of their products require plastic packaging, Thompson said at least 90 per cent are put directly into the baskets, which get home-delivered and picked up again to be reused.
The farm has also organized itself to meticulously follow up on its yields and harvests to ensure growing as close to exactly what it needs to avoid possibly wasting food, time and money. “We’re not making any money off the extra,” Thompson said. “So, we started planting exactly what we need and suddenly we got more efficient and we started producing more.”
Opened in 2011, the farm was initially located at the Plate-forme agricole de L’Ange Gardien, before moving to its current location five years later. Thompson noted that the farm has received several awards so far, including the Ministère de l’agriculture des pêcheries et de l’alimentation du Québec’s (MAPAQ) Prix de la Relève agricole, and the Ordre national du mérite agricole, both in 2018. But now, with the business in its 10th year of operations and the reason behind the award – sustainable development - this one certainly holds plenty of signficance, Thompson said. “When we started our farm, one of our biggest concerns was the environment,” Thompson said. “So, getting this award now really says that we’ve been on the right path, that we’re potentially kind of a model that other farms can copy. We can pave the way for the next generation to be able to continue with this type of production.”
Those interested can find out more about the farm and its organic basket service via its website - http://www.notrepetiteferme.ca/.
The Financière agricole du Québec’s President and Director General Ernest Desrosiers praised Thompson for showing distinctive envrionmental practices.
Launched in 2005, it noted that the Tournez-vous vers l’excellence contest is about recognizing the contributions of young agricultural entrepreneurs in the province. This year, the contest rewarded five entrepreneurs, including the Big winner with a $5,000 bursary, two laureates with $2,500, and two beneficiaries with a $1,500 grant. In total, the contest saw five entrepreneus from the province walk away with a collective share of $12,000. So far, the contest has had 390 candidatures, rewarding more than $146,000 to 45 different laureates.