Ferme J.P. Desgroseilliers: Market Gardeners from Father to Son
Following in the footsteps of his parents Guy and Marie-Josée, Maxime Desgroseilliers is gradually taking over the family farm founded in 1956 by his paternal grandfather in Saint-Rémi, Montérégie. The man in his early thirties is already thinking far ahead and eager to combine tradition and innovation.
A magazine Caribou text
The Ferme J.P. Desgroseilliers stand has grown in size over the last years. Two seasonal stalls have been added to the original location in Jean-Talon Market where the family has been present since it opened. One dedicated to the three varieties of corn grown by the family – yellow, bicolour and white – and a second one, Les jardins Desgroseilliers, known until last year as “La place à Max”. It’s here that the 22-year-old learned about entrepreneurship by selling new products such as Jerusalem artichokes, winter squash and garlic.
“I always knew I wanted to work in agriculture,” explains Maxime. “We never twisted his arm,” says his father, “I didn’t want to tell him he had to take over, it had to be his own decision.”
Born Into a Farming Family
Having grown up on the family land on Rang Saint-Paul, Guy Desgroseilliers, who was contemplating a career in the military, had to make a similar decision when his father offered him the chance to take over the market garden farm in the mid-1980s.
Long before it became a trend, Guy and Marie-Josée – who joined Guy in the countryside to start a family – quickly modernized their practices by applying the principles of sustainable agriculture. “Twenty-five years ago, we were among the first in Québec to use trichogramma,” Guy says proudly. In doing so, they developed expertise in biological control using these parasitic insects, which are true allies enabling them to produce vegetables without pesticides. “We don’t have organic certification, but when there’s an organic solution, that’s certainly the one we’re going to favour. That’s also why we don’t grow certain crops like cabbages and onions which are often attacked and require a lot of pesticides.”
His son Maxime nods in agreement. Since he started working full-time on the farm, the young entrepreneur has made a number of operational changes, starting with the hiring of workers to help out in the fields and ensure the long-term future of the business. “We used to pick everything ourselves,” Guy sums up. “We’d go pick potatoes after spending the day at the market. It was a very small-scale business! This year, all I do is delegating!”
“But it’s still a family business,” adds Maxime, “our employees are like family.”
The family actually expanded at the end of 2022 with the arrival of a new baby, the first-born of the fourth generation of Desgroseilliers to be raised on the family land. “It’s pleasant to see Maxime involve his son in his plan,” says Guy, “he thinks that if he gives the little one the same childhood he had, he’ll certainly learn to love this lifestyle.”
Quick Questions to Guy Desgroseillers
What are the must-haves at your stand? Our four varieties of potatoes and three varieties of corn, two typical Québec crops that my father used to grow. In recent years, we’ve expanded to include less common varieties, such as the Yukon Gold potato and white corn, a curiosity here even though it’s very common in South America, which is delicious in salads. We’re pretty much the only ones to sell it at the market! And Maxime’s Jerusalem artichokes are very popular.
What motivates you to get up at the crack of dawn every morning? It’s hard to say … It’s part of our lives to watch the sun rise and set. In fact, when he was little, Maxime didn’t want to go to a day camp in the summer, he preferred to work in the fields.
An anecdote? As a child, Maxime was very well known at the market. Around the age of seven or eight, he used to spend his days riding his unicycle down the aisles. Everyone knew him!
Producers, merchants and artisans together make up the Montréal Public Markets’ extended family. For years, often for generations, they’ve been getting up early, experimenting, sometimes starting over, nurturing, harvesting and flourishing! Day after day, they stand proudly behind their stalls as if by their own dining-room table, inviting us to feast. They’re the heart and soul of the markets – their very essence – and the reason we keep coming back. The Family Portrait series aims to pay tribute to all the pillars of our public markets.
Ce projet a été financé par le ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation dans le cadre du Programme d’appui au développement de l’agriculture et de l’agroalimentaire en région.