Ferme Dagenais: History
Right at the heart of the Ottawa valley, our farm is surrounded with large conventional agricultural fields. All on a small scale but very diversified, inspired by oldtime farms, you can find here Canadian cows, sheep, goats, poney, donkey, ducks and laying hens. During summer season, we also have pigs, turkeys and meat birds. In our gardens, we grow vegetables and culinary herbs, flower and medicinal plants. We aim at self sufficiency and biodynamic warp.
Gilles and myself are both born on farms less than 2km away from this hobby farm. Nothing surprising that after a few years in the city, the desire to come back to the countryside brought us back to our homeland to stay. That's why in 1976, we bought half an acre from my Dad to build our house. In 1984, we acquired the whole 30 acres which consist of our actual farm.
Our great adventure on the alternative road started when our oldest daughter got sick. That's what propelled us toward a healthier diet and a greater environnemental conscience. This search for health and balance brought us to open a natural foodstore: Le Tournesol. I started to study naturopathie in Montreal and our son Sylvain follows the same path. He is also an osteopath with his clinic on the farm.
In 1999, Gilles retires from a 35 year career as an accountant and from there the farm and family got bigger. This same year, our three daughters, Céline, France, Brigitte and myself started a 3 year certificate as traditional herbalist with Herbart. Always on the marginal side, daughters and daughter-in-law, give birth at home with midwives, nursing the babies and homeschooling the kids inspired by the Waldorf Teaching philosophy. It's also the start of the orchard when Sylvain buys some 300 fruit trees: apples, pears, plums and others, planted on a cold and rainy May weekend with the whole family helping.
The workshop 'L'introduction à la biodynamie' given at l'Armoire aux herbes, strongly pushed us in that direction but it was the 1999 summer gatering at La Butte Magique that really kicked off the practice of biodymalic ways on our farm. Than in 2005, the orchard is opened to the public for self picking and we started the transformation of apples into juice.
Since then, we never stopped reaching for the 'small ideal farm' with an animal and vegetal diversity, the application of 500 and 501 and the inoculation of the preparations in the compost. In 2003, reaching the end of a 17 year lease on the main street in Embrun we moved the store on the farm.
This farm continues growing as the family does like the family and in every sense of the word. Now our family includes: Gilles and I, our 4 children with spouses and our 12 grandchildren, not to mention a 13th expected in Juin.
Everyone participates in the many tasks involved in a small diversified farm. Together we form a well-woven and biodynamic family nucleus that gently spreads its values to those around them.
We look forward to seeing you at our farm, Irène and Gilles Dagenais
Note: written in french by Irène Dagenais in 2013
What is biodynamics?
Biodynamics is an agriculture that nourishes the body, soul and mind while invigorating the earth. For more than 80 years it has been offering an integrated practice of conscious agriculture. Rudolf Steiner gave the foundations of biodynamics in 1924 when some farmers already perceived a deterioration in plant quality and animal health. Biodynamics puts at our service preparations based on plants and animal supports, some of which are used in composts, others on the soil and plants. These preparations aim to invigorate the substrates so that the plant, evolving in an environment conducive to its growth, is more open to the forces coming from the cosmos and embodies them to nourish the body, soul and spirit of the human being.