Gagnon horticultural farm: last year of strawberry production

Ferme horticole Gagnon will stop strawberry production after the year 2023, which will then concentrate on large-scale organic farming.

The family business sees new challenges for the coming years, after 60 years of strawberry production. The main player in the field of berries will focus on the production of vegetable proteins.

The owner, David Lemire, announced that he had acquired farm land located in Shawinigan in recent months. “We had a golden opportunity at Ferme horticole Gagnon. […] It’s really something we’re interested in, adding some strings to our bow, and there’s a great farm around the corner of Shawinigan,” exclaimed Mr. Lemire.

The producer will thus have 1200 hectares to exploit in organic agriculture. Soybeans, wheat, sweet corn and oats will be part of the next crops.

Mr. Lemire wants to be reassuring to his clients. “This year, everything remains the same.” The challenge going forward is that strawberry production is very demanding, it would be difficult to reconcile the two in the long term, he added.

Starting in 2025, other producers in the region will help stock the farm’s 22 kiosks with strawberries. It is that producing strawberries requires a lot of time. “You have to be there seven days a week, always. With this new purchase it will be difficult to maintain the area of ​​strawberries that we currently have”, he explained.

For the Quebec Strawberry and Raspberry Growers Association, this is a great loss. Furthermore, it is “worrying” to see experienced growers, such as Ferme horticole Gagnon, neglecting the production of these small fruits, according to general manager Jennifer Crawford. “We see a number of dropouts, but there are also new producers coming into production,” she explained.

However, he says he understands the producer’s decision, who wants to broaden his horizons and offer a culture of great interest to his successors. Furthermore, he acknowledges that strawberry production creates many challenges, whether related to the cost of labor or climate change.

With the minimum wage rising soon, growers’ expenses will be even higher this year. Already, “it represents 50% of production costs,” Ms. Crawford said, referring to labor.

As the harvest is 100% manual, he reported that growers will probably have to look for new methods in the future to reduce production and labor costs.

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