Dispatches from the south: A pleasant surprise Chez Nous

Posted Aug 22nd, 2011 in Eating Niagara

Dispatches from the south: A pleasant surprise Chez Nous

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In the last few years, there have been many roadside stands springing up, rising in popularity along with the local food movement.

But when you stop to inquire about the source of their produce, it's often the case that the food that fills the stand has been brought in from wholesalers and not gown on site. I wondered if this was the case with a farm stand I'd passed while travelling through the village of Stevensville. I finally pulled off the road and into their driveway to check out what was on offer at Chez Nous Farms. It proved to be a welcome surprise.

The sign beckoning visitors to Chez Nous Farms. 

Chez Nous Farms is a tidy, two-acre certified organic farm tucked behind the row of houses strung along Stevensville Road, on the south side of the village. Driving by, the only evidence of the farm that can be seen from the road is their large sign, listing produce and a small year-round farm stand.

I was lucky enough to meet owners Rick and Shirley Ladouceur the day that I stopped. Rick took the time to walk me through their fields and chicken coop. He spoke passionately about the organic growing methods they use and continue to refine. He spoke about the organically raised and butchered chickens they would soon have available. And he talked about what it has been like for them to start an organic farm on land compacted over the years in its previous role as a horse farm.

The Chez Nous gardens had mown white clover mulch, keeping down weeds between rows. The plants and produce look very healthy and the chickens are well-tended to.

It's been a difficult season for most farmers in Niagara this year with the wet spring and dry summer, but Rick and Shirley seem to have a good handle on things. I was surprised to learn that they had only been farming for two years. Rick gave up a career as a millwright, though Shirley still works as a child and youth worker with the French public school board.

I left with my purchase of kale and some cute peewee eggs from their new laying hens. I know I'll be back, especially this winter when they have fresh greens from their greenhouse for sale.

Check out the Chez Nous blog to learn more about Rick and Shirley and their farm. And to visit the stand, stop in at 2192 Stevensville Rd., Stevensville.

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