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Les Vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm is a fourth-generation family farm near the village of St.-Pascal-Baylon in the bilingual rural heartland of Eastern Ontario. Owned and operated by EOAN president Michel Villeneuve and his wife Carrie McKay, the 40-acre farm produces a wide range of tree and soft fruits–pears, blueberries, apples, grapes, raspberries and cherries, much of which is made into wine. The land for the farm was originally cleared by Michel’s great-grandfather Jules in 1857, and Michel and his wife still live in the original farm dwelling that has been expanded considerably over the years. However, Michel started as a commercial fruit farmer in 1998 after purchasing the farm from his grandfather Léo. He expanded it in fruit wine production after he retired as the computer systems director at Transport Canada in 2016. Carrie, a retired teacher, helps on the farm in the background.
Michel says that his mentor, and key inspiration as a winemaker, has been Carmen Bender, the former owner of the Strathmore Orchard and Winery in Monkland, whose wine-making business Michel eventually purchased. Thanks to its deep roots in the area, the Villeneuve farm is integrated into the local community. Young people earn good money as fruit pickers during the season or families spending the day on-site picking their own fruit.
In recent years, a big community event has been a two-day Apple Fest on the second Saturday/Sunday in September. The farm is opened to the public for wagon rides and other family activities for free. Looking ahead, he plans to further diversify his crops into Christmas trees and to continue developing his wine variety (currently 14 types) using unique fruit like kiwi and sea buckthorn from Les Fruits du Poirier.
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