From Farm to Plate, Despite It All

Agriculture, Featured

The 2020 season, the 9th season of the Ferme du Roulant, has seen its share of changes and adaptation. Starting with the team: Virginie became the manager of the farm for the first time on her own, accompanied by Erin and Véro, respectively field production coordinator and greenhouse production coordinator. Maya joined the team as a farm hand, but quickly took on responsibilities with baskets management and delivery.

For the first time in the history of the agriculture program, all baskets were sold by the beginning of May. This high level of interest has brought its share of questions, in particular, how to serve farm products while scrupulously respecting sanitary measures. This is why the option of delivering the baskets was offered, considerably increasing the logistical challenges. After the first few weeks, corrections and adjustments were made, improving the level of satisfaction of basket partners.

Another first offered in 2020: the personalization of baskets. Using an online platform, basket partners could choose their favourite vegetables to receive the same week. The dream for the future of the farm is a basket with few or no mandatory vegetables and a market style basket.

An obstacle course

In addition to the sanitary measures that we had to follow, the crops suffered successive heat waves, drought and insect infestations.

Top 5 biggest challenges:

  • thrips infested the onions;
  • the stem borer destroyed the zucchini plants;
  • bacterial canker affected our tunnel tomatoes;
  • lettuce has systematically gone to seed before reaching mature size;
  • mice ravaged the beet crop.

Dazzling successes

Despite the pitfalls, the unpredictable harvests from week to week allowed us to set up personalized baskets with lots of choice for partners!

Top 5 successes of the season:

  • beautiful leeks, with virtually no damage from ringworm;
  • the delicious orange cherry tomatoes;
  • the addition of melons and potatoes from Ferme de l’île, and apples from Verger d’Hudson;
  • bountiful harvest of squash, without damage from stem borer;
  • the early harvests of cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants and peppers!

We could only accommodate about ten volunteers in the fields, but it was the opposite for the delivery. Thank you to the 19 volunteers who helped deliver the baskets! Lest we forget our detour, GPS, and parallel parking ninjas, Nick, Lo and Louis, who have valiantly helped throughout the season.

As winter arrives, know that we are still working in the fields to prepare for the next agricultural season. We’ll take a well-deserved break and then come back in full force. We still do not know what the sanitary situation will look like in 2021. What is certain is that we will continue our efforts to grow high quality fruits and vegetables.

On behalf of the entire Ferme du Roulant and Santropol Roulant team, thank you for supporting a different type of agriculture that can quietly change the Montreal food system and that makes organic produce accessible to vulnerable people or whose financial means are less. Let us remain united and continue to foster hope.