Meet Your Members!
Every two weeks, we will feature two new or renewed members, specifically farmers and food and beverage enterprises. There are over 600 people receiving this newsletter. Your farm or food enterprise will also be featured in the upcoming newsletters when you join or renew your membership with the EOAN.
Hidden Trails Farm
Hidden Trails Farm in Hammond is a 60-acre farm operated by Benoit Jean and Kelsey Glandon and one or two employees depending on the season.
The enterprise describes itself as “a small-scale organic farm doing door-to-door deliveries weekly across Rockland and Ottawa” and “a happy producer and distributor of fresh wholesome regenerative local meats, produce and products.”
Like many EOAN members, the couple brings to their endeavours impressive backgrounds in other fields not directly related to agriculture. Ben had 12 years in the Canadian military as a Flight Engineer and a few years as a Technical Officer at the National Research Council’s Propulsion Laboratory in Ottawa. He now works as a real estate agent with Re/Max. Kelsey has many years’ administrative experience with the Department of National Defense in Ottawa where the couple met in 2008.
The couple actually decided to have a farm on their own when they were posted by the Canadian Forces to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories and became more aware of the importance of wholesome and nutritious food.
They started out with a two-acre property in Rockland and also worked as part-time milkers three evenings a week with Brabantdale Dairy Farm in Navan.
Then, in 2015, they bought the initial 10-acre property they named Hidden Trails Farm, which seemed totally suited for their aspirations, and also subsequently secured a long-term lease for another 40 acres of arable land just down the road.
Part of the key to their success is the diversity of their product range, much of which comes from fellow farmers: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, vegetables, grains, microgreens, honey, sips and now pre-made meals. These are marketed on their website and also actively promoted on their Facebook site with over 1,800 “followers” at present.
Ben credits the financial success of their operation to its diversity, noting that over the last three years, gross retail income increased from $7,700 in 2018, to $47,800 in 2019, and $119,000 in 2020.
Another key to their success is their complementary roles: while both have proved to be extremely capable and knowledgeable self-taught farmers in different sectors, Ben very much focuses on the business side of things, while Kelsey primarily stays on the farm looking after production and their three young sons.
The couple has also taken out a 50% stake in Maker Feed Co, a new local-food-based restaurant in Cumberland Ottawa with Chef Michel Gaumond, former Chef of St-Martha's Brasserie. Despite opening in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant is reportedly doing well.
Looking ahead, Ben and Kelsey see tremendous potential in joining forces with other local producers who share their values to create formal business corporations that synergistically leverage complementary products, abilities and efficiencies to take local food supply to a larger-scale level, while still preserving the values of a rural, family-based lifestyle.
Black Duck Farm
Black Duck Farm near Alexandria is a small-scale producer of “high-quality pastured poultry” that mainly markets its meat to online customers and at farmers’ markets.
Operated by Adrien and Marie-Rose Quenneville, the farm is totally committed to regenerative agricultural principles which are comprehensively described on the farm’s website and Facebook page.
Adrien owes his agricultural background to growing up on his father’s hobby farm in Gananoque, near Kingston where his father worked at the Royal Military College and where he and Marie-Rose met in high school.
The couple decided to go into regenerative farming when they were in Thompson, northern Manitoba where Adrien was starting out his career as a commercial pilot.
As Adrien tells it, he learned about permaculture from a fellow swimmer at the local pool in Thompson, and then took Geoff Lawton’s popular online course to become a certified permaculture designer.
When Adrien subsequently switched companies in 2014 to work for Sunwing Airlines flying out of Montreal, he and his wife had to be within a two hours’ drive of their workplace, so they bought their current property and began raising their first trial batch of 50 pasture-raised chickens.
They then signed up for the Chicken Farmers of Ontario artisanal chicken program, which allows production of up to 3,000 birds a year and have been with that program ever since.
In 2016, Black Duck Farm expanded to a nearby 20-acre property that where six acres of pasture are reserved for the chickens that are brooded in modified trailers, then pastured in chicken tractors.
Adrien intends to continue his career as an airline pilot, while continuing his farming activities. Most airline work is during the winter months when farm work is naturally much less, but considerably fewer flying hours during the summer when farming chores are at their busiest!
He says that he is starting the process of building a low-cost, eco-friendly house in a clearing on the wooded portion of the nearby 20-acre property in order to have more space and be closer to the poultry pasture. In due course, he will then probably sell his existing house and land, which is already becoming somewhat too small for the couple and their five children.
Adrien feels that he, Benoit Jean of Hidden Trails Farms, and a few other local producers are kindred spirits in terms of sharing the same values. He is one of the partners in the new joint enterprise that is being developed to leverage synergies and complementarities within the Eastern Ontario agri-food ecosystem.