Kiosques de la Relève are back for a 3rd season
Since 2021, the Jean-Talon, Atwater and Maisonneuve markets have welcomed dozens of young Québec farmers from May to October, thanks to the Kiosques de la Relève (see season 2023 schedule). This initiative allows small agricultural businesses, often start-ups, to have access to turnkey facilities one day a week to showcase their products. A unique venture enjoyed by both young farmers and public market customers!
“The Kiosques de la Relève meet the specific needs of the new generation of farmers who don’t have the volume or manpower yet to set up shop with us seven days a week while still working their land. With this new simplified rental formula, we’re supporting a whole cohort of new farmers. We encourage their production’s growth, provide them with the opportunity of dealing directly with their Montréal customers and sustain Québec’s local agriculture.”Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, General Manager of the Montreal Public Markets
A quick look at the press shows how young people wanting to pursue their family’s agricultural mission, or who are simply passionate about farming, face major challenges. Part of the problem is the intense speculation regarding arable land, its value having increased 248% in the last 10 years, according to data compiled by Farm Credit Canada.
“I rent my family’s land in Mirabel because I’m unable to buy it at the moment. The prices are exorbitant,” confirms Léandre Raymond Desjardins, a former chef who founded his market garden farm Les jardins de la fourchette in 2021. An early participant in the Kiosques de la Relève at Jean-Talon Market, he values this initiative which allows him to quietly develop his commercial activities centred around direct sales, subscriptions to weekly market garden baskets and deliveries to restaurants.
But the price of land is not the only challenge faced by young farmers. Martin Caron, General President of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), points out that “labour problems, inflation, price of fuel, inputs, equipment, etc., and the need to adapt to new technologies all have an impact on Québec farmers’ debt level. As a result, one dollar of revenue equals today eight dollars of investment, as opposed to two dollars of investment before. No wonder so many of them are running out of steam.”
Mr. Caron also stresses the next generation of farmers crucial role at a time when 40% of farmers, who are on average 54 years old, don’t have a takeover plan. “It’s a real concern, so we have to do our best to encourage young people who choose this profession. That’s what we do at UPA by contributing to the Kiosques la relève which we consider to be a magnificent showcase for young farmers. It allows them to test their products and build trust with consumers.”
The Kiosques de la Relève are a concrete solution to the marketing challenges of the new generation of farmers. Led by the Montréal Public Markets, this project immediately received the support of the City of Montréal, the MAPAQ and, of course, the UPA, which pays 50% of the rental cost of the kiosks.
A helping hand that made it possible for 26 up-and-coming agricultural enterprises, organic market gardeners, urban farmers, garlic, herbs, edible flowers producers, breeders, wine growers, and foragers to participate in 2022. In short, plenty to please everyone.
The 2023 season will be just as exciting with two booths at Jean-Talon Market, two more at Atwater Market and one at Maisonneuve Market. Since the beginning of May, young producers of microgreens, mushrooms, edible plants, as well as pasture duck and Highland beef farmers, have already been greeting visitors. And that’s just the beginning since the Kiosques la relève initiative will run until October!
And there are several innovating farms on this list. In addition to selling their products, they have begun to set up a subscription drop-off point for pre-ordered market garden baskets. A hybrid formula that makes people happy, since customers who pick up their orders can also complete their purchases with the daily arrivals.
We can therefore expect many tasty moments of discovery, enjoyment and connection at the Kiosques de la Relève this year. Léandre Raymond Desjardins, who will be arriving in June with his forty or so bio-intensive vegetables grown on his non-mechanized farm, is very much looking forward to this experience: “I’m happy to free myself up every week to come and man the kiosk,” he says. “Direct contact with the customers is precious. They’re curious, open-minded people who are interested in our products and story. They come to us for inspiration, and they inspire us just as much in return. It’s a win-win situation.”
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