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2021 Tournez-vous vers l'excellence! Contest

2021 Tournez-vous vers l'excellence! Contest

Here are the 10 finalists of the 16th edition of the Tournez-vous vers l'excellence! Contest

La Financière agricole is proud to present the 10 young farmers who have been named finalists in its contest thanks to the excellence of their entrepreneurial profile, their accomplishments, and the managerial qualities that drive them.

Discover five women and five men, all young people passionate about their profession, with unique personalities and backgrounds, who together represent the increasingly diversified and creative agriculture in Québec today.

Chaudière-Appalaches

Audrey Boulet

Audrey Boulet

Les Brebis du Beaurivage (sheep production, Lévis)
Business start-up

« I felt the need to develop local marketing so I could be more valued in my work. »

Audrey believes that nothing should go to waste. In five years, she has created a unique business model in sheep production by valuing every part of the animal. In addition to the 22,000 litres of milk produced annually to supply a local cheese factory, her lambs are sold as breeding stock or for meat. The skin is transformed into tannings, and the wool is sold to the local population, directly from her farm or online store. Her entire production chain is 100% local. The results of her flock, on all levels, exceed the sectoral averages. With fewer than 75 ewes in production, her sales for the last year are quite exceptional. She wishes to continue the growth of her business by relying on her creative side and by increasing her flock to 200 ewes.

Sébastien Grondin

Sébastien Grondin

Ferme Valsé (dairy production transitioning to organic, Lévis)
Business start-up

« My strength of character, physical prowess, and optimism help me to excel. »

Sébastien had a dream, some savings, and several jobs behind him. Driven by his project, he undertook training at the Centre de formation agricole de Saint-Anselme. He received an award for his effort and perseverance. He also placed second in the agricultural entrepreneurship contest Sur les traces de Louis Hébert. His passion for agriculture is plain for all to see. He bought a 68-hectare piece of land, which had once belonged to his grandfather, and restarted all the agricultural activities that had been abandoned. He re-cultivated the fields, began the organic transition, and restored the livestock buildings to a productive state. He introduced a herd of Jersey cows to the pasture. All this, in a period of two years! Moreover, from day one, he has shown a constant and rigorous concern for herd management and milk control. After one year, he increased his milk production per cow by 16%. Getting started was a matter of effort and perseverance. "You’ve got to keep your nose to the grindstone from morning to night," he likes to say. Today, he’s proud to have his dream come true and to have brought the family farm back to life. And he’s only just the begun!

Lanaudière

Christophe Drouin

Christophe Drouin

Cédrière Del-Fino (production horticole ornementale, Lavaltrie)
Transfer of a family business

« I have ambitions to take my farm business to an Industry 4.0 level – automated, connected, and sustainable. »

The 34,000 cedars that Christophe produces each year are sold mainly in Québec , but are also exported to Ontario, New Brunswick, and the United States. Christophe hopes to increase production to 100,000 cedars per year. The particularity is that half will be in the fields, and the other half in compostable containers, an easier and more ecological way of planting. Since joining the business, Christophe has increased sales from $100,000 to $250,000 for one dimension of his enterprise alone. An economist by training, he is focused on marketing his trees because he feels it is the key to making the business sustainable and long-lasting, "even though we produce the finest cedars in North America." He has also invested in automating certain tasks and, above all, he has joined a group of producers who are conducting research on the constant improvement of yields and the development of the best cultivation approaches and techniques.  

Montérégie

Edem Amegbo

Edem Amegbo

Au jardin d’Edem (organic vegetable production, Granby)
Business start-up

« As a young man, I used to go to the field with my father and, without realizing it, the seeds of a future market gardener were planted and began to grow. »

Three years ago, Edem took the gamble of investing in a large greenhouse and tunnel system to grow African vegetables in  Québec  soil. "The results have been absolutely conclusive.” Today, his business helps feed 120 families on a weekly basis. His African customers are rediscovering the flavours of their countries of origin. They travel up to 200 km to get products that are hard to find elsewhere! As for old-stock Quebecers, they are discovering flavours from other lands. By 2022, the entrepreneur hopes to increase his production of African vegetables by 25% and feed 200 families. He also aims to break into new markets, more specifically ethnic markets in large urban centres. In fact, he has just introduced an online store on his website. His farm has become a place of integration for many newcomers and an "intergenerational squad" centre, where young people who want to learn the basics of agriculture are paired with more experienced folk. Edem’s charismatic personality made a big splash at the last Montréal en lumière (high lights) festival. A native of Togo, Edem is truly becoming an ambassador for the West African community and its culinary culture.

Olivier Lamoureux

Olivier Lamoureux

Coop les Jardins de la Résistance (organic vegetable production, Ormstown)
Business start-up

« My training has given me a meaningful basis for understanding the effects of farm work on the environment. »

After studying communications and film, Olivier took courses in the environment and science, a choice which changed his career plan. Seduced by the concept of community- supported agriculture, he founded a cooperative. His goals were quickly reached and exceeded. In ten years, he increased sales fivefold. The cooperative has grown exponentially since the construction of a heated greenhouse, a cold room, and a packing room enabling the distribution of vegetable baskets over four seasons. Coop les Jardins de la Résistance is the only enterprise to distribute organic baskets in winter in the entire Haut-Saint-Laurent RCM. Today, the work cooperative produces about fifty varieties of vegetables. In the short term, Olivier intends to increase and diversify his production capacity with the upcoming acquisition of a second greenhouse. Beyond profitability, Olivier systematically questions the impact of his agricultural practices. The importance he places on community involvement has led him to help create a regional network of monthly visits to organic vegetable farms during summer.

Sophie Brodeur

Sophie Brodeur

Ferme Réso (grain-fed calf production, Saint-Dominique)
Transfer of a family business

« I’m proud to produce the world’s first and foremost grain-fed veal for local consumption. »

Growing up on a farm, Sophie knew that she would stay there for the rest of her life. After studying agriculture and the environment, she took over the farm of her late father, who had served as an exceptional mentor. Her visionary business plan was to produce the highest quality meat in conditions that respect animal welfare.

After one year, Sophie abandoned the custom breeding of milk-fed calves. She became self-financed and independent in the production of grain-fed calves. Since then, the business has experienced a meteoric progression, despite unpredictable years with variations in market value. Sophie has been able to make her mark thanks to her ability to monitor cash flow, astutely analyze investments, and "be bold when she’s had to.” Recently, she started selling grain-fed calves directly from the farm. Although she has already received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for her commitment to the community, she recognizes that today, at 34 years of age, she must devote her time primarily to work and family life. "I hope to pass on my passion to my four children and hand over a prosperous business with a human dimension."  

Outaouais

Erin Krekoski

Erin Krekoski

 

Rock’s End Farm (organic sheep and beef production, Farrellton)
Business start-up

« A rising tide lifts all boats. The stronger my neighbours and fellow farmers are, the stronger I am too. »

Originally from Alberta, Erin founded her farm in  Québec  in 2018. She raises a flock of 45 Icelandic ewes, certified pure organic lamb. In just three years, her sales have tripled. She sells all her products directly to local consumers. In addition to meat, she also sells high quality yarn and luxurious sheepskins. Her goal is to increase her flock to 100 head by 2025, which will triple her sales. Her long-term goal is to operate a fully sustainable, regenerative, and profitable farm. "I take great pride in filling local families' freezers with healthy, fresh, regenerative meat and providing them with wool. I learned this type of solidarity as a child on the farm and will in turn teach it to my kids." Erin has a vision of entrepreneurship that focuses on active collaboration with other farmers. "Because we truly believe that together we’re stronger." She’s not afraid to share even her financial data to allow all farmers to compare and improve.

Bas-Saint-Laurent

Léda Villeneuve

Léda Villeneuve

Ferme ViGo (lamb production, maple syrup production, and egg production, Saint-Onésime-d'Ixworth)
Business start-up

This fall, Léda will become « the first egg producer associated with the Fédération des producteurs d'œufs du Québec in the Kamouraska RCM », with an initial flock of 9,800 hens.

Léda markets over 550 lambs each year. She produces more than 120 kg of ewe meat per year and her sugar bush has 720 taps. Twice awarded the Ordre national du mérite agricole, her success has been building since 2008. In the first ten years of her operation, Léda doubled her gross income, which should go forth and multiply with the new egg production added to the lamb production and her maple grove.  Her success is based on solid training, knowledge of agriculture, hundreds of hours spent on her business plan, and continuing education, which she considers an investment. Her partners are also "a gold mine of information" for her. Committed to her village "in order to inspire young people, in my own way, to start farming," she has taken on a social mission with school children by involving them in the work.  "An army of little volunteers" has responded to her invitations! This mother of four children believes that her three production sectors will ensure a bright future for her business. A farm store to showcase her products is also on the drawing board.

Laurentides

Olivier Forget

Olivier Forget

Ferme Forget 2001 (dairy production, Saint-Jérôme)
Transfer of a family business

« Agriculture has always been my first choice. »

For Olivier, the path was clear and straight ahead. He began his studies in agricultural business management and technology, and then became the fourth generation of his family to establish a dairy farm. As an entrepreneur, he aims for profitability, sectoral diversification, and continuous optimization. He has achieved excellent results in breeding and dairy production. "We've been holding our own in the top group for the past few years!" For Olivier, one of the keys to success is working continuously with the Groupe conseil agricole (farm advisory group) in his region. Other goals besides profitability are just as important to him. "I want to establish a financially healthy business in our community that respects the environment, acts for animal welfare, and promotes family and the well-being of the people who work on the farm." Because of his proximity to urban areas, he says he has a duty to promote land development and the local agricultural economy, especially among young people. His farm has also been renowned for its maple products for nearly 50 years. Olivier has also contributed to this aspect of the business, notably by adding home delivery.

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

Pascale Maltais

Pascale Maltais

Ferme Maltais (dairy production, Hébertville-Station)
Transfer of a family business

« My passion for animals and their well-being is a source of sheer delight. I’m really lucky to do a job I so thoroughly enjoy. »

Her studies in agro-economics led her to travel to Switzerland, Brittany, and Luxembourg, where she had the opportunity to explore different productions and work methods. She then joined the board of directors of the Nutrinor cooperative. "A dream come true!” The combination of experience and training helped Pascale become a skilful manager at the tender age of 28. With her father and uncle by her side, she became a key player in the decision-making process of the farm, enabling her to share her vision and establish her credibility. Mission accomplished! In three years, she undertook to expand the dairy barn, increase milk production from 140.6 kg to 200 kg, lower feed costs, and improve the efficiency of the business while increasing its profitability. Ferme Maltais has signed the Nutrinor Sustainable Agriculture Pact. She is committed to achieving excellence in five areas of her business: financial health, working conditions, a thriving territory, animal health, and a healthy living environment. The eventual departure of the current ownership will provide another opportunity for her. In the meantime, she continues to build on her own strengths, while learning from the seasoned veterans at her side

Presentation of the members of the independent jury

The 10 finalists will now move on to the second phase of the contest. An independent jury will determine the grand prize winner and two runners-up. Two awards will also be given, one for the quality of mentoring received (FIRA award), and the other for best practices in sustainable development. The results will be announced on November 24, during the Colloque Gestion (management colloquium) of the Centre de référence en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Québec.

The members of the jury are

  • Gilles Martin, retired farmer.
  • Dominique Vignola, La Financière agricole du Québec retiree.
  • Hélène Brassard, Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation.
  • Joanie Courchesne, Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec.
  • Marie-Claude Bernard, La Financière agricole du Québec.

About the Tournez-vous vers l'excellence! Contest

This contest is intended for young agricultural entrepreneurs who, thanks to their professional skills and management qualities, stand out for the excellence of their professional profile.

Registration period is now closed. Thank you all for your participation!

Five awards will be presented, totalling $13,000:

  • $5,000 to the grand prize winner.
  • $2,500 to the two runners up.
  • $1,500 to the contestant who has excelled in the area of sustainable development.
  • $1,500 to the contestant who has stood out in particular by the importance of his/her coaching or mentoring. This is awarded by the Fonds d'investissement pour la relève agricole (FIRA).  

By holding this contest, La Financière agricole du Québec, in collaboration with the CRAAQ, is demonstrating the importance it attaches to training as well as to a set of qualities and talents paving the way to the farming profession.