Fanny Beaudin: Sowing, Harvesting, Sharing
As a student, Fanny found work at the Jean-Talon and Atwater markets to help support herself. It turned out to be a defining event in her life, because she never left the market environment. That was the fabulous destiny of Fanny Beaudin.
Every morning, Fanny takes great care to arrange the display of her Atwater Market stand, matching colours, shapes and textures. “I feel like I’m painting a canvas. That’s how I experience it,” she tells us. The parallel with painting is not coincidental, since she studied art and psychology at university. “I wanted to be an art therapist. But instead I ended up being a vegetable artist!” she says, laughing.
The Field of Life
To her, what was supposed to be a student job became an all-consuming trade. For 15 years, Fanny worked in the greenhouses, in the fields and at the Atwater Market stand for the company Le Potager du gourmet, in Saint-Michel. “Working in the field and at the market is intense and often difficult, because the days are long and demanding. But I love what I do so my challenge has always been to keep sufficient space for the rest of my life.”
Gaétan and Diane Pinsonneault were the owners of Le Potager du gourmet. Fanny immediately took a liking to the owners when she started working for them. So much so that they became her second family. She learned the trade with them and discovered she was equally passionate about it: “Seeing your product grow and offering it to people makes you happy. You know they’ll have a good time because of you. And working in the garden is a therapy in itself: you’re totally in the moment and it feels good!”
In 2012, Gaétan and Diane started thinking about retirement. They wanted to sell the land, but Fanny couldn’t afford to buy it. So the couple made an arrangement with her. They rented Fanny part of the land and continued production with her while she took over the Atwater Market stand. This is how Aux trouvailles gourmandes de Fanny was born in 2013. The market gardener sells her vegetables and aromatic herbs, but since it’s a small-scale production, she also offers the harvests of producers who share her values. Everything is local, from small-scale productions, organic, without pesticides or insecticides at Fanny’s stand.
Fanny produces several herbs, hot peppers, many varieties of heirloom tomatoes, aubergines and peppers, as well as edible flowers. In addition to the well-known greens, she offers rarer species: epazote, papalo, leaf celery, mizuna, purslane, among others. “We want people to discover new things. There’s always something new to broaden their horizons. We want to make visiting the market an experience.”
Fanny enjoys the relationships she builds with her market customers. She serves the young epicureans from Griffintown who’re keen on discovering new things, as well as older customers with more traditional tastes. Their ages span three generations. “I’m highly empathetic towards my clients. I’m 39 years old, I have no children, but I have 1000 children! I like to give personalized care to each of my clients, but I can’t be there all the time. So I’ve got a great team I can count on: my boyfriend, my godmother and two great recruits. I tell them, “Give the service you’d want to receive.” Especially in these times of COVID, people need to feel supported.” Fanny’s boyfriend used to be her neighbour at the market, working at the fish shop. At first, they were just friends and one day, seeing that Fanny had a lot of work to do, he offered her his help… and then his heart. The lovely couple is now dreaming of buying a farmhouse.
The market gardener has always been attracted to public markets. For her, they’re extraordinary meeting places. “When I travel, it’s the first place I want to visit. I think you can learn a lot about people through their markets. I’ve been to Morocco, the Caribbean, Europe, north and south. Right away, it gives you an idea of the essence, the soul of the people. That’s what I think.” When tourists pass by her stand and stop to chat with her, Fanny knows they’ll remember their visit to the Atwater Market. “Human contact touches people, it enriches their day.”
Text by Mélanie Gagné, cariboumag.com
Translated by Marie-Andrée Parent
Photo: Fabrice Gaëtan
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