The Townships is full of magnificent landscapes, however, rarely do we see a vantage point as stunning as the sunflower field of the L’Arôme des champs oil-mill. In this field is a sight to be subdued by. At the end of long, sturdy stems reaching almost two feet, more than three million sunflowers all facing south-east to store as much sunlight as possible. In addition to producing an enormous flower that makes us feel so small, sunflowers are oleaginous plants, which means that the fat content in its seeds are high enough that we can extract oil from them.
It is precisely with that thought in mind that the Montréal couple Joany Brodeur and Martin Vallée, came to settle here in Bromont. They took over the Moulin des Cèdres oil-mill that was for sale and produce their own organic sunflower oil under the new name L’Arôme des champs.
Thus, to learn more about their journey and their new reality, we took a trip to their field located on Chemin Darcy, just before sundown, which we imagine will be very promising from a photographic standpoint. The couple is waiting for us with their two children waving their arms and smiling. Martin had suggested that we come within the next few days to take full advantage of the sunflowers at their peak, that is, at the moment where they are in full bloom at or about the same time. Far from being able to imagine the beauty to which we would be exposed to, we needed a few minutes to genuinely appreciate the surreal panoramic view.
Joany and Martin both grew up in an agricultural environment. Nonetheless, their respective journeys have slightly redirected them toward different avenues later in life. Martin specialized in computer science and Joany in project management at the Gatineau Chamber of commerce. However, in 2019, the young family made the big leap to return to their first love: life in the suburbs on a piece of land that they could start their own business. This lifestyle change turned out to be more sudden than expected so Joany and Martin had to work double or triple time to renovate their house in Montréal to be able to sell it, buy a house here, move, find a suitable daycare and learn to work as a couple. A significant challenge, however, according to Martin nothing is impossible “ there are still a lot of things to do, we are working very hard and we are constantly developing… there are challenges in everything we do, but we are ready to overcome them!”
Supported by the expertise of the L’Arôme des champs farm belonging to Johanne Brodeur and Pierre Verly, Joany’s parents, as well as that of the previous owner of the oil-mill, Loïc Dewavrin, who is never too far, our two entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge of being two of the rarest sunflower producers in Québec. Joany and Martin, along with the benevolence of their mentors who are excellent guides, continue to move forward with their initiatives and can thus improve or revisit certain aspects of their activities. Always mindful of a culture that respects the environment, Joany and Martin explain to us the importance of growing organic, “it’s a wonderful challenge because we are breaking monoculture in Québec! Instead of growing corn or soy, which represents approximately 90% of our Québec fields, we grow sunflowers which has a positive impact on fauna, flora, bumblebees, bees etc. Integrating these enormous flowers in the culture is integrating them in the ecosystem and that is extremely beneficial! “ Evidently, everything is not coming up roses, organic growing does come with its share of disadvantages, but the Montréal couple succeeds with healthier methods for both their culture and the environment to stop the harmful insects and diseases from attacking their field. All the while, pointing to the dozens of bees that are hovering over the yellow halos on the horizon, Martin cries out, “ there are plenty of bees here now, that is the beauty of organic fields, we truly see diversity at its best!”
But the true reward lies also in the gratitude and infinite pride felt in seeing their precious oil on Quebecers tables and in the food service industry. According to them, that is the ultimate gift! Do not miss the opportunity to visit the L’Arôme des champs oil-mill or to come and visit their on-site store so you too can integrate sunflower oil in your dishes!