Jeanne Berard has been gardening for 35 years and the last four years researching and developing an organic vegetable production, creating a business for herself that she enjoys with her whole heart. She is the only female market garden entrepreneur in Manitoba who has been organically-certified since the beginning and maintains a self-sufficient venture apart from her farming lifestyle. Her and her husband farm about 1000 acres of non-organic grain, hay and pasture near Notre Dame du Lourdes. Jeanne plays both a supportive and partnership role in the farm, jumping on the combine when an extra hand is required or staying back to send out meals, coordinate phone calls and filling in anywhere she is needed.
In 2008, Jeanne began working on the DeRuyck’s Top of the Hill farm, at the time were producing vegetables on a few acres of their land. She dove into each aspect of their operation, from planting to weeding, to then harvesting, packaging and making deliveries with them into Winnipeg. She became well-acquainted with each of the chefs and store owners who ordered produce from the DeRuycks on a regular basis, enjoying the blend of building connections and improving the transparency of the business. By the end of the summer, the DeRuycks were offering to help and mentor Jeanne so that she could continue to fulfill their orders but transition the production to her farm. She spent that fall and winter taking courses on organic vegetable growing and acquiring the materials she would need in order to work towards gaining organic certification on her own land.
Jeanne’s 4-acre garden was certified in 2010 through OPAM after she enrolled in the Manitoba Organic Transition Program (MOTP) to ensure she was taking the right steps. The plots are now home to some of her infamous favourites like rainbow carrots (five colours!), banana fingerling potatoes, various winter squashes (grown for Tall Grass Prairie Bakery!) and heirloom tomatoes. Over half of the seeds she plants have been saved from varieties she has come to know and trust and the rest she purchases are non-GMO and untreated.