Potager Mont-Rouge Halte Gourmande: Fields of Fun
The Potager Mont-Rouge Halte Gourmande boasts 100,000 pick-your-own tomato plants in verdant fields that stretch as far as the eye can see; 70 varieties, including heirloom tomatoes, lemon tomatoes, blue tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and, of course, Italian tomatoes – including the popular Romanelle and San Marzano. Depending on the time of year, strawberries, asparagus, peppers, aubergines, blueberries, onions, artichokes and apples can also be picked.
Philippe Beauregard and his sister Marjolaine – age 30 and 33, both fourth generation farmers – run this young business located near their parents’ farm. In 2016, they bought the land and aging orchard of Potager Mont-Rouge, an outdated and saturated pick-your-own site. The siblings seized this opportunity to start their own business and set up Potager Mont-Rouge Halte Gourmande, an agritourism site that includes a boutique, a summer food court, a children’s playground, a mini-farm and a pick-your-own produce site.
The entire Beauregard family is involved in managing the two businesses. Philippe and Marjolaine focus on marketing while working closely with their parents who are responsible for production. Their expertise, machinery and employees make it possible – and less risky! – to plant the wide variety of vegetables they offer for picking, while the parents’ land is devoted to wholesale production of squash, tomatoes, etc. “We’re surrounded by experienced people. We make our own decisions, but our parents make all the difference.”
The duo also quickly opened a year-round kiosk at Jean-Talon Market. Their star products? Baskets of mixed tomatoes and the pickling cucumbers sorted by size. “In the summer, we sell the surplus fruits and vegetables. In the winter, we add prepared products. I studied food processing. We’ve worked a lot on expanding the preserved-food offering,” says Marjolaine. The dynamic young woman concocts strawberry butter, yellow beets marinated in cider vinegar, goat cheese and pumpkin-jam stuffed cabbage, maple mustard, corn relish and several other transformed goods.
A Much-Needed Presence at the Market
Each fall weekend, Philippe and Marjolaine welcome around 5,000 people to their agritourism site in Rougemont. They manage about sixty employees on site and at their Jean-Talon Market kiosk. “It’s the bounty of the harvest season. We work non-stop, seven days a week,” says Philippe. “The Jean-Talon Market kiosk is also running at full capacity. You have to be everywhere. This’s no time to get sick!”
At the end of the summer, their parents temporarily open their own stall opposite the children’s Jean-Talon kiosk. Their corner of the market goes crazy! Potager Mont-Rouge has long been known for its Italian tomatoes. “When our parents’ stall opens in mid-August to sell tomatoes by the case, it’s a real hit,” says Philippe.
“Our Jean-Talon Market kiosk is more relevant than ever. It fills an educational role that we’re committed to,” says Marjolaine. “The success of our business is due to a desire for proximity with producers and a need to be in touch with nature.” Just as well because they recently bought a maple grove. “As if we weren’t busy enough!” says Philippe.
Both parents of young children, Philippe and Marjolaine juggle family life and farming as best as they can. “We think about our children all the time, and about our business. We want to see them all grow!” says Marjolaine.
Quick QuestionsUn mot pour décrire l’ambiance au Marché Jean-Talon?
Marjolaine: Comforting. Maybe because I’ve been there all the time since I was 7 years old!What motivates you to get up so early in the morning?
Philippe: I love what I do and I don’t question it. I work 80 to 100 hours a week, but I don’t see it as a job.
Marjolaine: It’s never boring, I never get the Monday morning blues.Your fondest memory of the market?
Marjolaine: Selling tomatoes with my father, my grandfather and my friends.
Text by Sophie Allard, magazine Caribou Translated by Marie-Andrée Parent Photos: Michael Abril 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.
Text by Sophie Allard, magazine Caribou
Translated by Marie-Andrée Parent
Photos: Michael Abril
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.This project is funded through the Programme Proximité of the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, a program implemented under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership according to an agreement between the governments of Canada and Québec.