Smart tech and imported bees has Quebec farmer prepping to harvest despite the frozen ground
MONTREAL -- With spring on the horizon, Quebec's farmers are already planning their season but before his fields have even thawed, Philippe Beauregard is already growing crops.
His Rougemont-area farm is home to one greenhouse and strawberry season is coming up soon because of it. Usually March is low-season for farms, but not at Potager Mont-Rouge.
“To let people know were still alive during the winter!” says Philippe, who began planting in his greenhouse in January. Using only natural light during these lengthening days, his strawberries take a few months to be ready.
“We need three months to get the fruits ready. So, this year, we'll harvest at Easter and it's impressive to have the store open before the field season,” said Philippe.
His apple orchards are still deep in snow but the greenhouse keeps the family busy, especially since an upgrade where Philippe installed sensors and thermometres to monitor the plants and their environment.
“From now on, I can control my mist for the humidity and control the fans and I can control the heat. I can also control my watering,” said Philippe.
All these manipulations are done via an app on his mobile phone. To demonstrate his point to CTV News, he turned on the mist function as he stood between the rows of 35,000 plants, each sprouting small, white flowers. Each flower is growing into one strawberry and Philippe expects to harvest 2,000 litres of the fruit by the beginning of April.
Despite the added smart technology, this farmer knows there are two low-tech methods that will always remain. He still checks his crops by hand to make sure the data on his phone is correct. As well, strawberry fields need bees. Philippe imports hives from Belgium, where Biobest bumblebee species are bred to be pollinators and buzz around this greenhouse doing their work.
Those busy bees do a fine job; last year Philippe’s strawberries sold out quickly at his Halte-Gourmande store, located at Le Potager Mont-Rouge in Rougemont. He said his neighbouring farmers are also planning to build greenhouses to extend their seasons and to fill the request of their Quebecois clients who want to shop local all year round.