An avid backyard gardener who dreams of setting up an organic greenhouse operation is the winner of the Manitoba Farm Mentorship’s “So You Want to be an Organic Farmer!” contest.
Drew Bouchard, 21, is currently taking the Prairie Horticulture Certificate Program, specializing in greenhouse crop production. Upon being notified of his win, Bouchard promptly chose Blue Lagoon Organics at St. Francois Xavier as his mentor farm, where he will hone his skills growing organic greenhouse and field crops for Blue Lagoon’s community- supported agriculture shareholders.
Blue Lagoon farmer Lori Ann Regnier is also a Prairie Horticulture Certificate Program graduate, and she and husband Rene and son Stefan have been helping to train young interns and volunteers for five years on their farm near St. Franois Xavier.
“I’m an educator,” Lori Ann said. “I find it very exciting to pass on something that is important to me to someone who’s receptive to it.”
Bouchard said the first month on the farm has been enlightening. “Since I’ve started out here I’ve been given a new appreciation for what actually goes into organic growing. (Stefan has) provided me with all sorts of different business ideas I never would have thought of myself.”
Making the right connections to help aspiring farmers succeed is what Manitoba Farm Mentorship (MFM), a program of the Organic Food Council of Manitoba, is all about.
MFM has also connected new farmers with mentors for specialized assistance and farm visits, and our tours, workshops, and courses reaching out to those seeking more information about farming in Manitoba.
In addition to the two-month mentorship stint at Blue Lagoon and a $1,000 cash prize, Bouchard’s prize package includes registration for three farmer training events such as farm tours and workshops, enrolment in our Exploring Your Small Farm Dream course, membership with the Organic Food Council of Manitoba-COG, and two organic farming handbooks from Canadian Organic Growers.
MFM also congratulates second-prize winners Andreas Zinn and Kurtis Reimer. Andreas, 20, currently raises meat goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and Berkshire pigs on pasture, as well as growing cereals, oilseeds, and pulse crops on 400 acres with his family. Kurtis, 25, dreams about buying land near the city and growing enough food for his family, but also to feed the poor.