Heart of a farmer by Julie Aubé: a nutritionist on the farm

This text is part of the special Pleasures notebook

Known for its events Take the field! and his works Eat local! 1 and 2, Julie Aubé admires and works alongside local producers, and has put them at the center of her projects for 15 years. 5 years ago, she herself mastered the professions of farmer and breeder. His latest book ,Heart of a farmer, recounts this journey full of pitfalls and wonders.

The nice surprise

Throughout her meetings with agricultural producers, the nutritionist describes them as her idols. It is therefore not entirely surprising that one day she wanted to get closer to them and their reality in her daily life. After years of searching with her partner, Pascal Hudon, aka Pascal the butcher, they found their dream home in the countryside, where gardening, eating and preserving their own food would be possible.

It was in Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies that the couple settled part-time at the end of 2018. Julie Aubé quickly saw it as a huge playground on which she could have fun growing some vegetables and, why not, adopt a few chickens for fun. A sort of chalet on the banks of the river that many city dwellers in search of slowness and fresh air covet.

But the nutritionist tends to professionalize her hobbies. “To give me the right to practice them, like cooking or gardening during normal working hours, it must be part of a business mandate,” she explains. At first, she didn’t allow herself to go play in the garden in the middle of the morning.

Then, a certain pandemic forced her to temporarily cease most of her professional activities. The idea of ​​setting up a large vegetable garden and adopting a considerable number of chickens to sell his vegetables and eggs began to germinate. And she materializes like a child who was not planned, but whom we always wanted deep down. Indeed, Julie Aubé describes her house and her project as if it were her baby.

Tame the territory

In everything she does, Julie Aubé is meticulous, even studious. So much so that, to do things well, she enrolled in the agroforestry microprogram at Laval University and even did her session project on developing her garden.

With her training in hand and her years of close contact with the agricultural sector, she remains well aware of the challenges that await her. Curious, humble and eternally optimistic, she still faces serious obstacles. “I knew that the paperwork to complete for registers and subsidy applications was complex and that it took a lot of time for farmers,” she confides. But I admit that the conditions to be respected to obtain financial aid, to help preserve biodiversity for example, do not always make sense and that it is quite discouraging at times. »

Like all other producers, she must also deal with the vagaries of the weather, the management of predators, the diseases that can affect her plants and animals… “They are real warriors, small-scale farmers,” confides. She. They are literally fighting to feed us. »

In her book, Julie Aubé recounts the ups and downs of her agricultural experiences. “I do my business plan every year, because it changes all the time,” she says. Last year, for example, she decided to install a Roch the Farmer self-service counter — the name of her farm — to sell her goods.

In her “tool-story”, she also demonstrates, as usual, her admiration for local farmers, who give their body and soul to produce quality food both for us and for the planet. Following her personal and professional observations, she sends a clear message to governments: “For each farm that decides to close the key in the barn, it is our food autonomy that crumbles. »

Events leading up to Halloween

Heart of a farmer. Stories of orchards, chickens and biodiversity

Julie Aubé, Éditions de l’Homme, Montreal, 2024, 240 pages

This content was produced by the Special Publications team at Duty, relating to marketing. The writing of the Duty did not take part.

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