Natacha Lagarde, a determined farmer

Every month, the magazine Farmers newsletter chooses an inspiring personality from the agricultural and agri-food world and publishes a column to make them better known. The berry harvest has started in the province, the bulletin chose Natacha Lagarde, producer of hash caps, blueberries and raspberries. First. We present you the chronicle online.

Natacha Lagarde

Although she had no intention of pursuing a career in agriculture, Natacha Lagarde is undoubtedly one of the most determined farmers. Involved with the farmers of Chaudière-Appalaches, co-owner of Sucreries DL and the Ferme des centacres de Lac-Etchemin, she fully deserves her title!

“Fardoche was the only farmer I knew,” she jokes. Born in Sept-Îles on the north coast, where mining and manufacturing dominate, she naturally chose to become an industrial engineer at Cégep de Lévis. It was her husband, who specializes in sugar bush automation, who introduced her to the industry. “I didn’t know a maple forest, I asked him questions. He couldn’t really take me to see a client, so I found one for sale and asked if I wanted to go see it,” she says.

The couple visited the maple forest in November 2009 and completed the purchase in February 2010. “I fell in love and… 53 feet of naivety, I really didn’t know what to expect,” admits Natacha, who then had two young children. . In the beginning, the couple worked during the week, went to the maple forest on the weekends and learned the trade. “If There Had Been a Book” The sugar bush for dummies, we would have read it”, she laughs and admits mistakes were made.

Since 2011, the company’s syrup and processed products have been sold, primarily through an online platform. From 2015 the sugar factory is also present on social networks. So much so that it serves a very diversified clientele from downtown Montreal as well as in Alberta or on the north coast. “Here in Beauce, all families have cabins. I told myself the syrup should be made accessible to people who don’t have one,” she explains. In 2021, the products of the 4,500 cranes were all sold through various channels developed by the company.

In 2017, the production of haskaps will be added to that of syrup and in 2021 that of raspberries and blueberries thanks to an extraordinary business opportunity. “A grower had blueberry plants for sale. But the 1,700 plants had to be moved. No one had ever moved so many plants before,” recalls Natacha. Another difficulty: Not enough land is cleared to accommodate all these plants.

Far from being discouraged, the farmer even decides that this is the perfect opportunity to realize a dream she has long cherished: having her shop on the farm. Permit applications, deforestation, building the store, moving the plants to follow… “In the spring of 2021 it got completely wet. We could not go into the fields with the tractor. We noticed that we had to move the blueberry plants along with the construction of the store. Finally the last plants were put in the field, I washed the window of the shop door, I opened it and I welcomed the customers,” she says breathlessly.

Despite everything, this first season in the store went well. “My vision was to give people from here access to a local business with local products, not just mine, but also my favorite products. In time I want to open the fields for events. I think it’s important to make agriculture accessible again,” says Natacha.

The store also allows the farmer to educate people about local marketing. “People have no bad intentions, they know nothing about agriculture. You have to explain to them why cane syrup costs so much, why berries are sometimes cheaper. We have a responsibility to feed people, but they have a responsibility to buy here so we can continue to feed them. †

Book : “A book that marked me and that I reread is The target (Eliyahu M Goldratt) on factory production management. It explains many things. For example, it is not necessary for an employee to move all the time, it is normal that he is not always productive. †

MovieJoy, film inspired by the life of Joy Mangano, the American entrepreneur who invented the “Magic Mop”. “Even if the world told her her invention wouldn’t work, she made it. I’m the same, if someone tells me “you won’t make it”, I scratch even harder to get there. †

Quote “Listen to them, girl, you can do it!” The number of times I say that to myself or my kids. When I receive a flat message on Messenger, I look at myself in the mirror and say this phrase to myself. †

Character : “My mother Jeanne Lajoie. My father died when I was 11 years old. She worked hard to make sure we were okay, my brother and I were never short of anything. These days I tell myself that if she’s been able to get through all that with what she had, I can do a lot of things. †

Cause : “We serve maple syrup and butter at the counter of L’Essentiel des Etchemins. We’ve already offered blueberry picking for half a day. I think it’s important that they get nice products, not just basic foods such as flour. I think it is very important that people can eat well. †

Vision on agriculture: “I don’t believe in stagnant agriculture. It is clear that we will have to evolve in areas such as labor and the environment. You will have to ask questions. We will not change just because the consumer asks for it, because they don’t always understand the implications of their demands or how farming works. Educating the population is the foundation. †

Know an inspiring person who stands out in your community? Send us their name and contact details at this address: [email protected]† Who knows, she might become one of our next personalities of the month!

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