Category: News

Serres Pierre Brisebois et Fils : On a family scale

Here is the translation of the text into Canadian English:

Since 1980, the horticultural company founded by Pierre and Diane Brisebois has been serving a very loyal clientele in Laval. Today, led by a second generation of managers, it has also been offering a thriving garden center for 15 years.

“When our long-time customers talk about our parents, it makes us nostalgic, but it’s always positive,” says Éric Brisebois, who now directs the family business with his brothers Philippe and Dominic, as well as his sister-in-law Marie-Ève.

« On se dit souvent : “Si seulement ils voyaient comment la compagnie a évolué… ils n’en croiraient pas leurs yeux!” On est fiers d’avoir réussi à continuer dans une voie qu’ils auraient aimée. »

Éric Brisebois, Co-owner

A gradual transition

The transfer of the business to the new generation of Brisebois was marked by some trials, particularly the death of its two founders four years apart. But today, Serres Pierre Brisebois et Fils (PBF) are stronger than ever: their vast production greenhouses and their garden center on Dagenais Boulevard are hugely successful. And their team of 18 people is made up of employees with several years of loyal service.

While Dominic got involved very early in plant production with his parents, Éric says that for him, the decision wasn’t necessarily straightforward: “After studying agronomy, I worked for four other companies in the horticultural sector before making my ‘return to the roots’,” he recalls. “Even though I was convinced I would never work for the family business, it seems it was ingrained in me! When my brother decided to build a garden center, I thought if I didn’t try, I would regret it.”

In 2010, Éric and Philippe joined Serres PBF, teaming up with their brother Dominic. “We’re all versatile, but each has a different strength. I think the business works well because we manage to really leverage each person’s strength.”

Today, Dominic mainly takes care of the greenhouses; Éric, the garden center; and Philippe is a ‘hybrid’ active on both sides, in addition to taking care of machinery repair and maintenance. The core of the business is completed by the indispensable Marie-Ève, Dominic’s wife, who handles accounting and purchases for the garden center.

A Family Atmosphere

Formerly specialized in wholesale, Serres PBF added a new string to their bow in 2007: retail sales. This expansion led to strong growth. To support it, the company relied on the support of Groupex, particularly for advertising and supply, not to mention the mutual aid between members, which Éric finds very important: he is also involved in the cooperative within the Passion Jardins committee as well as the committee that develops flyers for the banner.

“We are now at the peak of our growth: we could grow more, but we decided to stay on a more family scale. There are a lot of advantages to being a small team: our customers feel that they are not just numbers, we know their names and what they bought last time. It’s not even intentional: we’re just like that. My parents were too! And I think our customers appreciate it.”

– Éric Brisebois, Serres PBF

Regarding recent transformations, the manager also cites the new configuration of his garden center, whose public-accessible area was significantly expanded during the pandemic. “It was an idea to respond to sanitary measures, but we’re going to keep it. People love wandering in the section formerly reserved for production: they like to see how it happens, and they have much more choice than before!”

Pépinière Locas : Welcome to the third generation

Here is the translation of the text into Canadian English:

Well-established in Laval for several decades, the family business founded by Robert Locas and then taken over by his son Yoland is promised a bright future under the direction of Sébastien and Annie-Claude Locas, who are playing an increasingly active role.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to work with plants. You could say I fell into it when I was little! I don’t think there was ever a plan B,”

Sébastien Locas, responsible for plant purchases

Trained in agricultural business management at McGill University, Sébastien officially joined the nursery in 2004, a year before his sister Annie-Claude, who now oversees human resources and advertising. Supported by their father, who is still very involved in the business, as well as their mother Marie-Andrée, both are gradually taking over the popular garden center on Sainte-Rose Boulevard, in Fabreville.

“Even though the business transfer is underway, we especially don’t want to change its nature: there won’t be a ‘before’ and ‘after’,” reveals the entrepreneur, before adding: “It’s really a continuation, because my sister and I feel that the nursery is already in our image.”

Sébastien Locas

Pépinière Locas, Laval
Pépinière Locas, Laval

A Shared Passion

If Pépinière Locas was among the first members of Groupex, Sébastien recounts that it drifted away for some time before coming back strongly in 2019.

“Alone, we might go faster, but together, we go much further! We realized how precious it is for us to be able to discuss with other entrepreneurs. In essence, Groupex is like a big family of enthusiasts, and everyone who is part of it is happy to exchange and share.”

Sébastien Locas

Sébastien also does not hesitate to share his passion for plants with his customers, who have evolved a lot over the years, and his team, which grows from 35 to 70 people during the high season. Due to high demand all year round, the nursery has chosen to stay open even in winter, thanks to its Christmas-themed offerings.

“I love the contact with plants, and I’m proud to produce quality plants. It brings me a lot of satisfaction! Our tropical plant greenhouse is really impressive, and we notice that people are coming from increasingly far for it,” he says enthusiastically. Sébastien is also pleased that tropical plants and urban agriculture are attracting more and more young enthusiasts, largely thanks to social media.

Since its foundation, Locas Nursery has evolved according to the trends and needs of its clientele: for example, the purchase of large trees to beautify spacious grounds has gradually given way to small planters and balcony containers, more suited to the demographic reality and densification of the Laval territory.

The family business has also started offering specialized products for chicken breeding, when it noticed the interest of residents, as well as a wider range of products for the vegetable garden – another practice that is gaining more followers. The company is also very interested in technical innovations, especially those that save water or avoid the use of pesticides.

Always on the lookout for new trends, Annie-Claude and Sébastien are not about to stop implementing innovations and products at Locas Nursery: “We’ve always loved observing what is done elsewhere. We’ve traveled a lot in Canada, the United States, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to visit garden centers, get inspired, and propose new ideas back home in Laval.”

Serres vivaces et annuelles
Équipe Pépinière Locas
Serres Pépinière Locas

Serres Dame Nature : Audacity, Environment, and Nordicity

Located in Lac-Saint-Jean, Les Serres Dame Nature have a knack for innovating and doing things differently. Rébéca Rouleau, co-owner, talks about unrelated succession, networking, and the bold initiatives her company has launched over the past 20 years.

“Many think we are a couple, but that’s not true! When the time came to take over my parents’ company, I hired a headhunter to find the ideal business partner, someone with strengths complementary to mine to assist in the succession.” Rébéca Rouleau, co-owner

Rébéca, humorously referring to her associate, Martin Harvey, and the non-traditional management model of her company. This approach seems to have borne fruit: for 21 years, she has co-directed with Martin the incredible expansion of Les Serres Dame Nature, in Saint-Gédéon.

Rébéca Rouleau and Martin Harvey, owners of Les Serres Dame Nature

Trained in agribusiness management at Université Laval, Rébéca is the first to admit that she is not a “numbers person.” Her passion has always been marketing, human resources, communication: in short, everything else! “Martin is a pro in finance, and that’s the nerve center of business! We are super lucky at Dame Nature to have both sides: my proactive and quite fiery side, let’s say… and Martin’s down-to-earth, more Cartesian and thoughtful strength.

I always have lots of ideas and projects, and thankfully he’s there to bring me back to order, sometimes!

“Martin is a pro in finance, and that’s the nerve center of business!”

Rébéca Rouleau

A New Vision

As soon as they formed the duo, they conducted a detailed analysis of their SME and a strategic plan reflecting their vision for the future of Les Serres Dame Nature. A significant overhaul of the business model followed: “The main difference is that my parents focused on wholesale sales in food markets. Martin and I decided to offer an experience directly to people at our location. This allowed us to better control our revenues, instead of giving it to big brands. We really don’t regret it!” explains Rébéca, adding that this approach also allowed them to prioritize quality over quantity.

Les Serres Dames Nature thus equipped themselves with a garden center responsible today for 80% of their turnover. Gradually, they acquired neighboring lands to create a nursery, expanded existing structures, and added landscaping and maintenance services. New companies were also founded: Les Herbes du Lac (2014), then Fleuriste Racine Karé (2016). “They have become important wagons of the Dame Nature locomotive!” estimates Rébéca. “Today, we’re at the stage of refining everything we’ve put in place over the last 15 years.”

Les herbes du Lac nominated at the Gala des grands prix agroalimentaires in the Maxi-Provigo Public Prize category
Les herbes du Lac, available at all Maxi-Provigo grocers in the Lac St-Jean region

Another important decision made by the two managers was to join Passion Jardins in 2007, a network of garden centers located throughout Quebec.

“When we became a garden center, we thought it was an important stepping stone! The coop helped us increase our notoriety and our purchasing power. Also, having a network is so important: I love the exchange and mutual aid,”


Rébéca is also very happy to be part of a network of women entrepreneurs in the sector, with whom she discusses and shares on a private platform; a way to support each other, ask questions, and give advice.

The Future of Dame Nature

Among the main projects Rébéca and Martin are working on is the designation of plants that are adapted to northern conditions and the creation of an associated brand. “We want to develop our expertise and increase our production of plants zoned for Saguenay‒Lac-Saint-Jean, with our short summers and cooler nights.” She explains enthusiastically that the new label will apply to annuals, perennials, and vegetables alike.

Another project that will occupy the managers over the next year is the extension of all the sustainability-focused initiatives of Les Serres Dame Nature. ‘We have already done our CO2 assessment, we compost everything, and we have limited packaging. Now, it’s time to tackle water management. We want to invest to better recover it, use basins and gutters… It’s complex, but it’s close to our heart!”

Les Serres Laliberté : a very promising succession

Since their foundation in 1970, Les Serres Laliberté have experienced impressive expansion. Sylvie Laliberté, co-owner, talks about the evolution of her company and the importance of networking.

In Bellechasse, everyone knows Les Serres Laliberté. Active for over 40 years, the family business now produces a wide variety of annuals, perennials, and shrubs, which it sells at its popular garden center in Sainte-Claire. Its loyal team of about twenty people is proud to serve long-standing customers.

 “It all started with a small greenhouse of 6 feet by 8 feet… My grandmother had bought seeds, and my father didn’t want anything to do with having seedlings in the house!”

 Sylvie Laliberté, co-owner

She also notes that, long before the creation of the garden center, the sales technique employed was completely different. “In the era of Avon saleswomen, she sold her products door to door!” Sylvie now works alongside her partner, Denis Fecteau, who took over the reins of Les Serres Laliberté in 1985.

“After his studies in forestry, Denis realized that he was also very interested in horticulture. It’s a bit like urban forestry, right?” jokes the accounting specialist. “He decided to buy my parents’ company and then I joined him a little later. And soon, it will be our turn to finalize the transfer to our son Steeve.”

Sabrina Fecteau, maintenance supervisor
Isabelle Lacasse, garden center employee

To say that the Laliberté-Fecteaus grew up with horticulture is an understatement. Around the age of 16, Sylvie and Denis’s children – Steeve, Sabrina, and Kathleen – began learning the ins and outs of the business. Trained at the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, their eldest son is now co-owner and in charge of the company’s landscaping aspect. Sabrina supervises the maintenance services, while the youngest, Kathleen, has recently started part-time at the garden center.

A Network of Affinities

Following the suggestion of friendly companies active in the sector, Les Serres Laliberté decided to join Groupex in 2001:

 “Of course, we save a lot of money by grouping together, but I also like the sharing network it creates. It’s fun to give each other tips, to ask for advice… In the end, we’re a great group who speak the same language!”

Sylvie Laliberté

Sylvie refers to the collaboration with companies like Ferme horticole Lajoie or the Lessard family of Mégantic (Lessard Garden Center and Paysages François Lessard).

Since their membership, Les Serres Laliberté have grown impressively, with the gradual addition of new services (landscaping, maintenance, and snow removal) and several expansion phases. Initially focused on annuals and vegetable plants, production has gradually diversified to include a wide variety of plants and perennials, in addition to selling associated products.

According to Sylvie, it’s now the garden center that brings in the most for the family business, accounting for 50% of sales, followed by landscaping (25%) and maintenance (25%). “Now, all our production is sold here, to individuals, but also to a few municipalities for which we prepare planters,” she adds.

Passion Jardins Sainte-Claire
service de vrac
entreprise certifée Maître paysagsite

Bergeron Paysagiste : Happiness is on the construction site

Over the past 26 years, Stevens Bergeron’s landscaping company has grown significantly, whether through adding services like snow removal or acquiring businesses. Looking back at the major milestones of a very fulfilling journey.

“It has always been clear to me that I wanted to be my own boss,” asserts Stevens Bergeron, who now heads the Lévis companies Paysages Bergeron and Entreprises S. Bergeron, offering a wide variety of residential and commercial services today.

But at 11 years old, when he started mowing his neighbors’ lawns after delivering newspapers in his neighborhood (all to later buy a scooter!), he couldn’t imagine the extent of his entrepreneurial adventure. Founded in 1996, Bergeron Landscaping has never stopped growing and diversifying its fields of activity… up to today.

 “I had my first employees at 13 years old! Since then, we’ve grown to 64 employees, sometimes managing 12 sites at the same time… After so much growth, I decided to reorganize the company to be closer to people. It reignites the flame!” he tells, clearly still very passionate about his work.

Stevens Bergeron, owner

“I want to focus our efforts on our prestige landscaping projects,” says Stevens, mentioning two particularly ambitious high-end residential projects he’s eager to present, at Lac-Beauport and Saint-Agapit. “It’s a service in high demand, and we’re happy to be able to serve a very demanding clientele. In short, it’s now time to grow instead of just getting bigger!”

Summer 2022 Achievement
Bergeron Paysagiste – certified Master Landscaper

Back to the Roots

At the time of our conversation, Stevens was delighted to have recently returned to directing operations, visiting sites, and having direct contact with people, aspects he missed in recent years.

The entrepreneur, who now wears multiple hats, recalls that his very first training was a DEP in heavy machinery mechanics, followed by a diploma in landscaping at Fierbourg. He then refined his knowledge in entrepreneurship, acquiring his RBQ Construction license along the way. And finally, from 2014 to 2016, he completed the Elite course at the École d’entrepreneurship de Beauce.

Of all the training I’ve done, my best experience was at the School of Entrepreneurship. It was a great way to meet people, network, break out of isolation. It’s partly for the same reasons I joined Groupex: the ‘family’ aspect we find there

Stevens Bergeron

Stevens emphasizes the importance of staying in touch with his peers. He does this through the Groupement des chefs d’entreprise (now EntreChefs PME) and the Maison des leaders.

Key Moments

One of the major steps in the growth of Bergeron Landscaping was the creation of a snow removal division, mainly to provide year-round work for its employees. The service was first offered to individuals, before being redirected exclusively to the commercial sector – for example, shopping center parking lots, and today those of the Valero (Jean-Gaulin) refinery in Lévis.

Other major events were the acquisition of Embellissement des 2 rives – Teronet and then Monsieur Patio. “It’s a bit special because at the end of my studies, it was at Teronet where I had my internship. It had remained a model for me: I wanted to start a company that resembled that!”

According to Stevens, this acquisition went very smoothly, largely because his director Mehdi El Gaied and he share the same values. “We’ve known each other for 20 years! I’m very proud to have him today as director of sales and design. We’ve always had a very good relationship.”

All aspects of Entreprises S. Bergeron are now managed with the same attention to detail. “Both for landscaping and snow removal, we’re proud to offer our clients a turnkey service. We do everything to give them peace of mind. Well-done work, reliability, these are part of our values and I hold them dear!”

GTL Paysagiste : Cooperate to Succeed

The growth of a company is a challenge in itself. I learned more in one year at Groupex than in ten years in business on my own,” estimates Gabriel Tougas, President of GTL Paysagiste and member of the Board of Directors of Groupex.

Since its inception, GTL Landscaping seems to have made a giant leap. Looking at Gabriel Tougas’s company in 2022 – with its 60 employees and a track record filled with prestigious landscaping awards – it’s hard to imagine the summer job he improvised during his studies.

“I have been interested in the landscaping sector since I was very young, but I also wanted to study communications. During my bachelor’s degree in public relations, my small business began to grow: I remember managing the routes of my team of five while I was in class. It had become complicated!” he recounts with a laugh.

It was in 2012, after graduating from the University of Montreal, that the entrepreneur from La Prairie decided to incorporate. Since then, he has been fully devoted to the management and development of GTL Landscaping, which carries out high-end residential landscaping on the South Shore, in the Eastern Townships, and in Montreal.

The Importance of Surrounding Yourself Well

Whether you think of Littoral or Luxe (winner of three awards at the 42nd APPQ competition), the diversity and scope of GTL Landscaping’s projects continue to grow. But Gabriel insists on the importance of gradual growth: “I never aimed for growth at all costs. My goal has always been to do things better, simplify our processes, and focus on the good players we already have,” he explains.

Gabriel Tougas Leclerc

“I’m the first to admit it: I’m not a construction site guy! My strength is primarily sales. I think the success of the company largely rests on this: I quickly sought the expertise of others to support me.”

Gabriel Tougas-Leclerc

Gabriel has surrounded himself with several architects, designers, and horticulturists. Recently, Gabriel has also relied on the experience of his father, Michel Leclerc, Director of Human Resources.

Michel Leclerc, HR Director G.T.L

Another essential meeting for the expansion of GTL occurred directly through the networking of Groupex: that of Patrick Gauthier and Karine Vadnais, then at the helm of Tourne-Le-Sol Landscaping in Ange-Gardien. “As soon as I arrived at Groupex, we quickly clicked. We decided to work together and then merge our businesses.” Patrick now handles operations at GTL, while Karine is the Landscaping Coordinator.

Karine Vadnais

Among the benefits of being part of a cooperative, Gabriel often refers to the sharing of knowledge. “The chance to discuss with entrepreneurs who have 30 years of experience is invaluable. Exchange, mutual aid, friendship… I think other fields would benefit from adopting a cooperative model like Groupex, for example, construction. I hope Groupex continues to develop, maybe even outside Quebec! I see many growth opportunities and everyone benefits.”

Gabriel Tougas Leclerc

André Carbonneau gardens celebrate their 50th anniversary

Since 1972, gardening enthusiasts from Mauricie and Lanaudière have been meeting at Jardins André Carbonneau. What are the secrets behind its success and longevity? André Carbonneau, owner and producer, talks about his journey, his team, and his love for his profession.

When he took over the direction of the company founded by his parents, Alexandre and Marie-Jeanne (formerly Regional Garden Center of Louiseville), at the turn of the 90s, André Carbonneau had no idea that he would one day develop such a great passion for plant production. “For me, taking over the family business was the easy way… almost lazy!” laughs the entrepreneur from Louiseville.

Seriously, from the age of 10 or 12, I followed my parents everywhere, and I learned so much that it almost became natural, continues the man who still pursued training in ornamental horticulture and landscaping. Later, there was an opportunity and I seized it – but I was far from being as passionate as I am today. That came later. I thought: “Wow, now I’ve really found my passion!

André Carbonneau, Owner

Formerly equipped with three landscaping teams, Jardins André Carbonneau got rid of this aspect 14 years ago to focus on production and retail. Over the decades, the area of their greenhouses has more than decupled. “I’ve reached a point in my life where I focus on what I love. Landscaping no longer excited me and I don’t regret stopping. Some people love money, I love plants! And it’s important for me to sell products that make me proud,” he says.

Finding what we are passionate about – or loving what we do – is perhaps the first “secret” to growing a popular garden center for several decades, which continues to attract people from all over Quebec. Whether it’s for advice, to buy products, or to find a job that makes them happy.

A Crucial Surrounding

André, Danielle, Mireille

André’s second “secret” is probably knowing how to be well surrounded. The company, which now has about a dozen employees, can count on a very solid core of indispensable people. “We don’t really know about labor shortages! We even recently welcomed two girls who left Montreal to come here. I’m lucky, people want to work with us.”

Listening to him praise the work of Danielle, the manager who has been supporting him for over 20 years, or that of Mireille (for 15 years) and Lyne (for 18 years), you can feel the entrepreneur’s pride in his loyal team. There’s also Lisette, who has been collaborating with André every spring for 25 years.

During the pandemic, I decided to close the company during the busiest weeks of the year to protect my people. That was much more important!” says André, who became known throughout the province at the beginning of the health crisis thanks to a viral video.

André Carbonneau, Owner

Another major aspect for André is networking – whether via Groupex, of which he has been a member since 1999, or other horticultural or municipal groups in Mauricie. “In my life, I’ve had the chance to meet and see excellent producers at work. They gave me lots of tips and advice. Helping each other and being around winners is essential!” says André, recounting how being able to exchange with other entrepreneurs and lend each other equipment during the COVID-19 crisis made all the difference.

These days, Jardins André Carbonneau stands out a lot thanks to their very dynamic Facebook page, followed by tens of thousands of people. “Our page plays a big role in making us known and staying in touch. There are even people who came to see us from Beauce the other day because they discovered us like that!” Filled with photos and videos animated by André and Mireille, this page generates immense participation from customers, who comment and talk with their favorite garden center. “That’s another aspect I love: chatting, sharing with people. We’re going to continue, that’s for sure!”

Another project that occupies André and his team is the start of a major renovation aimed at making their facilities more eco-friendly, notably by eliminating heating oil and recovering water. “The Gardens will become as green as possible. This is a project that is close to my heart… for the environment, but also for our quality of life and our pleasure in working here!” A initiative to follow during the year 2022 – on site and on Facebook!



ith a touch of humor and a lot of originality, the Louiseville company never hesitates to pay tribute to its founders: André’s parents and his uncle Bruno, a great tomato enthusiast. The garden center contains amusing commemorative plaques and little touches that recall the family history of Jardins André Carbonneau.

Mireille, a friendly team member (well known to the public, particularly thanks to the video capsules on Facebook!), shares one of her favorite anecdotes: the rose of Marie-Jeanne.

“It’s a tradition started by Alexandre, André’s father. Every year, he would offer the first rose that bloomed to his wife Marie-Jeanne. However, he also liked to play the comedian by offering other roses to his customers to make them smile! André continued the tradition: every May, we put the “sold” label on the most mature rose bush, then André goes to place the rose on his mother’s grave. The first rose is, and will always be, Marie-Jeanne’s rose.”

The “BRUNO” tomatoes
Rose de Marie Jeanne
André and a rose bush
Marie-Jeanne’s rose

Les Serres Arundel, members of our eco-responsible cohort

As the Laurentian horticultural company Les Serres Arundel prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Guy Provost and Johanne Meilleur share the vision of sustainable development that they have maintained for several decades.

What motivated you to be part of Groupex’s first eco-responsible cohort?

Guy Provost: We have always focused on initiatives that limit waste. This was the case with the dairy farm we had, and it’s what we do today in Arundel and Mont-Tremblant: we reuse everything we can! When we learned about the cohort, we thought that it already aligned with our values and that it was important to continue on this path.

We learn a lot: it’s super useful to see how others operate! It gives us tips, new methods, and we are well supported. The challenge for a company like ours is finding the time. But it’s important, and we feel that our staff wants to get involved, to be better informed.

Johanne Meilleur, Owner

Long before the term ‘sustainable development’ became popular, Les Serres Arundel were already implementing several initiatives in this direction. Can you give us some examples?

Guy: Before there were as many recycling options as today, we were already doing our best to ensure our materials were recovered. All the plastic was saved for a company that would reclaim it: it wasn’t always easy, especially when they moved to the United States and we had to accumulate pots for 3-4 years before finding a new recycler! At the same time, we also tried to keep the plastic from the greenhouses a bit longer. When it’s time to change it, we split it into smaller pieces so that our customers who want to make small shelters for the garden or a homemade greenhouse can benefit from it. This allows the plastic to be reused instead of being sent for recycling.

Gardening Pot Recycling

As for the pots, they are now collected once a year. We only send the ones that are broken and unusable, as we continue to reuse them as long as possible. We also encourage our customers to return their containers: they are then sorted based on their condition. This year, we are implementing a better bin system, so that customers can more easily sort their used containers at our two garden centers.

Johanne Meilleur, Owner

Guy: Back then, we had to find a company to wash the plastic and another one to recycle it. Now, it’s the same company that does both, and it’s much more convenient!

What changes have you made in terms of heating?

Guy: After heating with wood and oil, we changed our system to heat solely with wood and biomass. The workload for wood was significant: the volume to be heated had greatly increased, and we were up to 3 cords per day. With biomass, it became automatic: mill residues, bark… Now, a part is purchased from sorting centers. It’s definitely advantageous not to use oil – and the smell is much better. When the price of oil increased significantly, our costs remained stable because we had already eliminated it.

Regarding water conservation, what techniques have you implemented to replace sprinkler irrigation?

Guy: We completely eliminated the sprinkler system because it used a lot of water and led to waste. Since then, we water some parts by hand, and we have flood tables to water the rest from below and recover the water after irrigation. We also installed a carousel to weigh the baskets and determine the amount of water needed based on weight. When it’s well-calibrated, we use exactly the necessary amount of water, which also avoids waste.

Johanne: We really see the difference. We had fewer greenhouses and there were water shortages. Now we have a larger area and we don’t run out.

Johanne: We really see the difference. We had fewer greenhouses and there were water shortages. Now we have a larger area and we don’t run out.

Guy: Now, as much as possible, we only use organic products and predatory insects. Spraying is really reserved for major cases, like when there’s a period of intense heat and we need to act quickly to avoid losing everything, which is quite rare. With vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers), we manage without pesticides, and the predators work well. With flowers, it’s sometimes more challenging.

Johanne: The cultivation method is different: we need to be very proactive and anticipate which insects to use before an infestation occurs. It changes our way of doing things. We must integrate them right from the start. If the pest insect has already taken over, that’s when we have no choice but to use products. Fortunately, this remains rare and is never widespread spraying.

What are the other ongoing initiatives at Serres Arundel to limit waste?

Johanne: We’ve been doing bulk sales… since the 70s! People come with their vehicle to buy exactly the amount of potting soil they need, which greatly reduces the use of plastic bags. For the past 2 years, we also use biodegradable cardboard fiber pots for vegetables and herbs.

Can you easily count on customer participation for this kind of approach?

Johanne: Generally, yes. Bulk soil and pot recycling really work well. When people know that the option is available, they do it. For several years, our customers come in the spring with all their pots. I don’t think there’s a problem with participation; the main work is in communication.

What communication initiatives do you use to inform consumers about eco-friendly practices?

Johanne: We now use social media. For example, we released a video explaining our biomass heating system, provide information on reusing pots… We also organize activities, like during squash season. It’s very popular with families! Our Facebook page is mainly used for that. There are also nearby schools that visit our greenhouses, and we teach them many things.

Would you like to highlight other projects you are currently developing?

Johanne: We try to promote biodiversity: it’s something we care about. We are surrounded by fields. There’s even a honey producer who has set up beehives! Some fields are in corn production, others for Christmas trees, but we leave others free for natural flowers to grow and attract pollinators. We will continue in this direction.

What are your next challenges to tackle?

Guy: We participated in a MAPAQ program, and the goal is to reduce the electricity cost of the greenhouses. These are grants for several things, like thermal curtains, machinery… This year, we’re renovating a section of our greenhouses that’s several years old and aiming for better energy efficiency.

Johanne: In an ideal world, we’d also like to have a completely electric vehicle fleet, but we’re not there yet. We can say that it’s our longer-term goal!

Arundel Greenhouses invites you to come and celebrate their 50th anniversary on September 10th, from 10 AM to 4 PM. On the agenda: guided tour, tractor ride, tasting, and more. For information:

Bédard & Blouin Inc- Happiness is at the farm”

“Gardening has an incredible positive impact on both physical and mental health. Our farm helps people reconnect with nature, and that’s very precious!” responds Sarah Bédard when asked about her decision to take over her parents’ business.

Well-established in Beauport, Ferme Bédard et Blouin is not only a sought-after workplace but also a vast ‘playground’ for horticulture enthusiasts and other nature lovers. The Groupex member company, which employs about fifty people during the peak season, has a nursery as well as several greenhouses and extensive urban agricultural lands.

Sarah Bédard grew up on the family farm before pursuing studies in social work and administration. It was in 2011 that she decided to get more officially involved in the management of Ferme Bédard et Blouin, alongside her brother Nicolas. Today, she primarily oversees communications, marketing, customer service, and human resources, while Nicolas is in charge of production. Their parents, Denis Bédard and Raymonde Blouin, remain very active within the company.

“I was lucky to be raised here, but it was only later that I understood the importance of contact with nature,” confides Sarah, who is also a mother of five children, in addition to being an administrator and treasurer of our cooperative. “I realized that my work absolutely had to have a social impact. I think that’s why I still work on the farm today.”

Gradually, the young entrepreneur began to think of various ways to give back, to share the richness of the environment she lives in. “My drive is really to take concrete actions that positively influence people’s lives. Our employees, our clients, the coop, and also the entire community around us,” she says, mentioning the sustainable development policy of her farm, which is part of Groupex’s eco-responsible cohort.

Sarah also cites several actions taken by Ferme Bédard et Blouin with schools, youth centers, or therapy centers: donating plants, creating a vegetable garden, establishing a garden, etc. “For us, it’s just a little help, but for people, it makes all the difference.”

The Green Thumbs

Among all the social outreach projects of her company, the one Sarah is most proud of is undoubtedly the Les Pouces verts daycare. “We had just acquired new land with an ancestral house, and we didn’t yet know what to do with it. I thought it would be the ideal spot for children to enjoy, spend time outdoors, and learn.”

Inspired by the Scandinavian model of “forest schools,” which advocates education through nature, Sarah set out to develop this ambitious project, which presented several challenges, including obtaining a permit. She approached the CPE La Courtepointe, which immediately joined the adventure, and in 2019, Les Pouces verts finally came into being.

“We had the perfect place for a daycare, and the CPE already had a permit and all the necessary expertise. It’s a win-win partnership: we set up the project together, we remain owners of the building and lend them the land, in addition to organizing several small activities for them, but they are the ones who manage the organization on a daily basis,” explains Sarah with great pride. The daycare currently welcomes about 75 children and employs about twenty educators. “The children play outside daily and come to see us at the farm. They learn a lot of things, like picking pumpkins in the fall, for example. This project makes me really happy, and I hope it continues for a very long time!”

Le Centre horticole Bastien celebrates its 20th anniversary

Since April 2002, Jessie Bogemans and Normand Bastien have been delighted to welcome gardening enthusiasts to the Centre horticole Bastien in Terrebonne, which has recently added a new market gardening component. This year, the Groupex member enterprise celebrates its 20th anniversary with special promotions, contests, and a Harvest Festival set to take place on September 24.

Long before the production and sale of plants (annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs), there was landscaping, Jessie Bogemans recounts, whose meeting with Normand Bastien dates back to their studies in ornamental horticulture at the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire. “We both came from agricultural businesses – me from the South Shore, and him from the North Shore. We started in landscaping, but our goal was to have our own garden center, and there was really a need in Terrebonne. So, we launched, just the two of us!” recalls Jessie, who is today surrounded by a team of 25 employees.

A Family Story

In the early 2000s, the couple of horticulturists thus established their business on a plot of land already owned by the Bastien family for their sod farm. “There was nothing at all: it was a field of grass! We built everything ourselves,” Jessie continues proudly. It’s at this location, on Chemin Martin in Terrebonne, that their small enterprise grew into the vast current Bastien Horticultural Center, serving a clientele of individuals, municipalities, businesses, golf courses, and more.

Over the years, Jessie and Normand have expanded their nursery to include a wide variety of plant species, in addition to continuing to offer planning and landscaping services. “We wanted to create a place more rustic than commercial, where things aren’t arranged alphabetically,” she says. “A peaceful garden that stimulates our clients’ imagination.” And since last year, their son Maxime has been diversifying the offerings: the family business now also provides a range of greenhouse-grown vegetables, with heirloom tomatoes taking a prominent spot.

“As there are few fruit and vegetable kiosks in our area, there was great potential, but we didn’t have the time to take care of it! It was Maxime who, as part of his training in horticultural production at Lionel-Groulx College, created a business plan to develop this component, and we used it to obtain grants. Then, when everything stopped at the beginning of COVID, we took the opportunity to start growing our vegetables,” explains Jessie.

Maxime is currently continuing his studies in agricultural management at McGill University, while the Centre horticole Bastien continues its market gardening expansion, with an additional 160,000 square feet allocated to tomatoes, eggplants, melons, and herbs. It’s worth noting that his brother Xavier and sister Jeanne also work at the horticultural center: the former takes care of landscaping and infrastructure, while the latter provides customer service. The entire Bastien clan thus contributes to the family business’s activities.

The importance of helping each other

In addition to relying on two generations of Bastiens, the Horticultural Center is also part of other “families” that support it. There’s Groupex, of which it has been a member for 17 years: “Being part of a purchasing group is a great advantage for us, and the boost it gives us in administration and marketing is really a plus,” says Jessie about the cooperative. “Since the creation of our company, I like meeting other entrepreneurs to exchange or share tips. It’s really inspiring!”

The two entrepreneurs from Terrebonne are also involved in foundations and associations active in their community. For example, Jessie leads the ecoterritory component of the Société de développement et d’animation de Mascouche (SODAM), whose main mission is to develop new environmental initiatives.

Normand, for his part, is president of Jardin Moore, a public garden with educational and tourist purposes that everyone can enjoy since its reopening in 2015. The co-founder of the Horticultural Center also offers popular training sessions on horticulture, vegetable gardens, or permaculture; another beautiful way to pass on the knowledge and expertise acquired by the Bastiens over their two successful decades in business in the MRC des Moulins.”