The vast array of locally grown specialty foods is a defining characteristic of our region, and new additions to that wealth of choice are always welcome. Nicolas Taillefer, owner of Une Touche d’Ail, is a young entrepreneur who is spicing up the Valley with an assortment of home-grown garlic goodies.
Taillefer started the business in 2016 when he was just 15 years old. It began in his grandfather Yves Saucier’s garden with 1000 bulbs of garlic and has expanded into a massive garlic-centred business. This year he harvested 10 acres of garlic. “It’s been a lot of work, but we’re happy with where we ended up. The harvest went well; we had a good crop,” says Taillefer.
Une Touche d’Ail has had a big, busy year full of many exciting developments. To keep up with demand, it will be doubling its crop size next season by planting 20 acres of garlic bulbs. Along with that, a warehouse has been constructed to allow space to dry all the garlic produced. “It’s a really good dryer so that the garlic lasts a really long time,” says Taillefer. The improvements will enable the farm to triple the amount of product it has been handling in the past.
On top of these expansions, a kiosk has been added at the farm. “It’s open during the week, but it’s best on Sundays. We’re open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday, and we have a boutique with all of our products. We’re open every Sunday until Christmas,” says Taillefer.
Here, you can find Une Touche d’Ail’s iconic garlic flower pesto, purée, butter, and relish, now with new packaging. Besides the farm’s own garlic and products, this kiosk also features products from other Valley producers.
Of course, being so successful at such a young age hasn’t come without some hurdles. At the beginning of the business, Taillefer says the biggest struggle was gaining credibility. “When you’re young it’s harder, but now it’s going much better. Getting things started is always a challenge.” Now that he has established himself firmly as a grower, he says the biggest difficulties are “the sacrifices that have to be made. We have to work a lot and put aside our social life.”
Taillefer believes that the encouragement of young Valley entrepreneurs is vital for our local economy, as it helps to keep things going so the community is sustained for years to come. “I believe that it is important to have young people involved in the local economy because we are the future of the region. We are the ones who will create the jobs of tomorrow.” To any young person who is trying to start their own business, he offers some advice: “My two tips for young entrepreneurs are to believe in your dreams, and not count those hours of work.” If you follow these steps, the work won’t feel like work.
As for the future, Taillefer says the biggest goal is to “establish ourselves in the Valley as garlic producers, and to hit all of the selling spots in the region.” This year, Une Touche d’Ail products are being sold at the Huntingdon, Ormstown and Valleyfield IGA grocery stores. However, Taillefer intends to maintain a balance by “remaining faithful to our points of sale in the region, such as Épices du monde, Fraisière Lamoureux, Ferme Perras, Jardin Saint-Stan.”
Also new this year, the Une Touche d’Ail website (unetouchedail.ca) has an online store where you can order products from the comfort of your own home.