Ice Cream Confidential with… Louis Marineau from Ferme Marineau
1 August 2019
This summer, the DanieleHenkel.tv team hits the road to chat over ice cream with seasonal entrepreneurs. While everyone enjoys the sunny season, they work countless hours, sacrificing their time to ensure the growth of their business.
We kicked off the series in the middle of a raspberry field with Louis Marineau, with a tasty treat in hand; a homemade cone flavoured with local strawberries!
Your company, Ferme Marineau, is…
We are the fourth generation of Marineaus to harvest land in Laval. The story began in the 1920s with my great-grandmother Odile growing tobacco, daisies and vegetables. She travelled by horse-drawn carriage to Saint-Jacques market in Montreal to sell her products. She was ahead of her time: she kept the books and purchased land.
The company went to my grandfather, then to my father and uncles. When mine and my brother Martin’s turn came, we wanted to differentiate ourselves, so we founded Fleurineau. We became the largest Canadian producer of dried flowers. When this trend died down, we went back to our roots with fruits and vegetables. Our children are now getting involved with the farm. The eldest, 16-year-old Mathis, is busy growing a variety of melons this summer.
What challenges come with being dependent on a good season?
The season has a major impact. This spring for example was very cold. Summer came extremely late… (Hi Louis! We hear from the blueberry greenhouses. Oh, Hi Momo!) As a result, our three stores opened 10 days late. Corn was also two weeks late. For any entrepreneur, losing sales is a big deal, two weeks without selling pies, fruits and vegetables.
Not to mention that we are dependent on good weather throughout the summer. Our pickers started working in the raspberry fields a little later this morning because of the rain. If a storm rolls in today (it is 40 with the humidity), they will have to stop. When raspberries are wet, they rot. If it rains for two days, I could lose them because they are ready to be picked. We check the weather a lot, we adjust, but we can’t control everything.
How do you maximize your season?
We do what is necessary to have quality products. We also cater to families. The U-pick concept is very popular. We also have a park for kids and picnic areas. We offer rental spaces for children’s parties, we organize special activities such as goat yoga and corn roasts. We want people to feel at home, and to see us as their neighborhood garden. I don’t think we should be selfish and keep these lands to ourselves. Opening our doors and fields to people is win-win.
What does high season look like?
We work 7 days a week, and up to 15 hours a day until mid-September. I take a Sunday afternoon off whenever possible, but not during U-pick, there are too many people!
And the off season?
Come fall, it slows down, but we still have to pick everything, put away our fruits, put straw on our strawberries, and prepare for the next season. So we are still pretty busy. The off season really starts when it snows. We take the opportunity to rest, travel to sun-filled destinations. See friends, enjoy life, regain our strength for spring.
Summer days… What do you do to enjoy them?
Occasionally, after my day at work, I love sharing a meal with my three children on the terrace at Peter’s Cape Cod in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, taking in the water’s edge and the view of the canal locks. It is a very beautiful place and it makes me feel like I am on vacation.
What’s your favourite seasonal business?
What comes to mind is Les Givrés in Montreal’s Old Port. Just like us, they prepare products with fruit on-site, and make sure to use local produce. I think it’s a nice summer business.
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