A new fruit farm popped up in Saint-Chrysostome recently and it has been recognized for its innovative agricultural practices. Samuel Bourdeau and Catherine Julien started their business, Framboises et parapluies, about two years ago. They have been growing raspberries in pots and under shelters or “umbrellas,” hence the business name.
The unusual practice means the plants are sheltered from rain and hail, suspended, and irrigated, and they grow and produce very well this way. The farm also grows strawberries, pumpkins, and gourds. Though the pandemic brought some challenges to Bourdeau and Julien due to supply shortages, it also allowed them the time to really expand their business.
There are a few reasons why using umbrella shelters and planting in pots is beneficial to raspberry production. “[If they are] in the ground we end up with a lot of diseases,” says Bourdeau. This way, as plants are suspended above the ground, plant loss to disease is reduced. In addition, he explains that “Being in the pot means that when the production is done, we can put the pots aside and protect [the plants].” This is an extremely useful practice for harsh Canadian winters.
Recently, Framboises et parapluies was crowned the winner of the OSEntreprendre Challenge for the Haut-Saint-Laurent region, lauding the couple’s dynamism and creativity. “It was a really great experience. There was a gala attached to all of it, so we got to meet other entrepreneurs who started their business in the past year,” says Julien.
Bourdeau says “Since we’re an agritourism business and we do a lot with the U-Pick, this means that we get more visibility.” To this, Julien adds that it’s been great to have new customers stopping by to congratulate them.
Coming up, Bourdeau and Julien are excited to be launching a corn maze this year. It will span five or six acres and will include activities for the whole family including solving clues to get to the end. This maze is a project they’ve been hoping to do for a while. “We’re in partnership with the COOP. And we’re working with Opération Enfant Soleil as well. One dollar from each ticket will go directly to them,” explains Julien.
Framboises et parapluies has also been preparing a boutique to have a self-serve store set up soon. Raspberries, strawberries, gourds, and even their new sweet corn will be available there. The two are hoping to eventually sell products from other local businesses around the region also. They remind folks that shopping local is a saving grace during a pandemic when we see shortages, and they are excited to share their new products with new customers.