Organic milk in La Conception

©Courtoisie

The Ferme Geneviève et Bruno Bessette, one of five organic milk farms in the Laurentians, has existed since 2012. Bruno is from the fifth generation of the Bessette family since 1913 to have farmed this land, which he bought from his father Mario three years ago. Located between the Rouge River and Hwy 117 at La Conception, it’s there that the entrepreneurial pair built a new barn for their forty milk cows.

Managing the work-family equation

Because both of them are from farming families, Geneviève and Bruno knew what they were getting into when they chose to study and work in agriculture. “We started our business from zero,” says Geneviève Brassard, “but we’re able to reconcile all that with family.” Their lifestyle includes time with their three children, who love going with them to the barn.

Of course, you have to get up early, work seven days a week and forget about vacations, but there are other advantages. “I particularly like the fact of being my own boss,” says Bruno. “Between two milking sessions, I can do an activity with the children, such as going to the beach. No need to ask anyone’s permission.”

©Courtoisie

The difference between organic and conventional

Organic certification guarantees that the cows’ feed is organic, that the cows have access to pasture, that the fields are cultivated without GMOs, or pesticides, or synthetic fertilizer, and that the use of antibiotics in minimized.

To reward these more expensive environmental measures, the farmers receive a higher price for their organic milk as established by Les Producteurs de lait du Québec.

The farmers also encourage the overall health of their animals through means such as providing them with lots of space in the new barn, in loose stalls with natural air flow.

“The race of the cows also plays an important role. The Jersey is much more resistant and more robust than a Holstein,” Geneviève explains. Bruno adds that the Jersey is more fertile, and while she produces less milk, the milk is higher in fat content.

Regional and future perspectives

In the mid-term, Geneviève Brassard and Bruno Bessette would like to obtain more value from the fact that organic milk is a quality product. Without a more developed processing chain in the Laurentians, their milk is sometimes mixed in with conventional lots. If their business were to grow or diversify, they could see creating a job for one person as impassioned by the work as they are.

 

More from this author by clicking on her picture below.

Geneviève Huchette

 

Geneviève Huchette51 Posts

Geneviève Huchette a grandi à Montréal et a complété un baccalauréat en agronomie à McGill. Après ses études et quelques voyages, elle a atterri à Mont-Tremblant en 2008, d'abord pour un emploi sur une ferme biologique. Alors qu'elle continue de jardiner pour le plaisir, Geneviève travaille actuellement dans les domaines du yoga, de la vente au détail et de la rédaction. Dans ses temps libres, elle adore les sports en montagne, les jeux de société et jouer de la musique. Geneviève Huchette grew up in Montreal and completed a bachelor degree in Environmental and Agricultural Sciences at McGill University. After years of studying and travelling, she landed in Mont Tremblant in 2008, first to work on an organic farm. Although she still enjoys gardening for fun, Genevieve presently works in various domains: yoga, retail and writing. In her leisure time, she likes mountain sports, board games and playing music.

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