Mylaine Massicotte, co-owner and operator of Les Jardins d’En-Haut, is not turning her back on market gardening forever – she’s just taking a break. The 2020 season was a challenging one on the organic vegetable farm, which is nestled on the eastern slope of Covey Hill. This was not because of a lack of customers, but because maintaining a work-life balance became quite difficult for the farmers. Massicotte and partner David Lemieux-Bibeau started the season last March taking turns carrying their infant son Edgar on their backs out of necessity, as their daycare centre was closed.
Massicotte first hinted at her decision to step back in an emotional newsletter for those who follow the farm. “Every workday became too difficult to imagine reconciling that this could be our life,” she wrote.
The other element that triggered this decision was the rapid employee turnover on the farm. Each year, a new crop of employees actively participates in the life of Les Jardins d’En Haut and the surrounding area.
Then, all the workers pack up to leave – sometimes even before the end of the season.
“I have to train and supervise employees who are never the same year after year. I realized I was becoming more of a manager and less of a market gardener. I had to delegate the tasks I enjoyed doing, to focus on those that are more challenging for me,” says Massicotte.
For her, the decision, though difficult, brought immediate relief: “Even though I was able to get through last season in good shape, it became obvious that repeating the experience would be a mistake.”
This year, the couple will focus on what Massicotte calls “groundwork.” This includes creating a vegetable garden for themselves, planting an orchard, doing drainage work, and automating irrigation. They are also planning to put more care into their medicinal plant plots, and to give attention to the vineyard – which she has christened the “Ignoble,” as it has been rather neglected.
The greenhouse will not remain lifeless, as Jean-Philippe Thuot (who is launching his company La Chèvre et le Chou) will be using the space for the season.