Savour East Ontario – An Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network Initiative


Discover Avondale Orchard

Dany Vaillancourt, originally from Saguenay, and Véronique Gerland, native of Provence, form an unconventional couple who made the courageous choice to reconnect with their agricultural roots. Despite being born in urban environments, their families preserved certain agricultural traditions such as harvesting and gardening, demonstrating their last connections to the land in an increasingly industrialized agricultural world.

Their journey towards a life closer to nature was inspired by a deep conviction: “We are what we eat.” This awareness led them to explore the crucial link between nutrition and health, supported by the research of Harvard’s Dr. Walter Willet, demonstrating since the 1970s the crucial impact of our diet on our well-being.

Despite efforts to adopt a healthy diet, including direct purchases from farmers and home cooking, they felt the limitations imposed by dependence on supermarkets and mass agriculture. For Véronique, facing personal health challenges, this was a decisive step that led her to become a nutrition therapist in Montreal, offering consultations and workshops to help others make informed food choices.

However, they realized that advising alone was not enough: many could not access affordable healthy foods, or were influenced by food trends often incompatible with true health. Thus was born their project, not as a revolt against the existing system, but as a demonstration of what is possible: Avondale Orchard.

A Vision for a Sustainable Future
Initially called Red Barn in 2018, the acquisition of a 20-acre agricultural land in 2020 allowed Dany and Véronique to take a decisive step in creating Avondale Orchard. The project distinctly differs from conventional agriculture, synonymous with pollution, disregard for life principles, indebtedness, and dependence on profit-oriented multinational corporations. Avondale Orchard will adopt a sustainable agriculture model by applying permaculture principles and maximizing organic practices.

The project involved creating an orchard with unconventional fruit trees, hardy fruit varieties, hazelnuts, and small fruit crops. While not limited to agroforestry, the orchard also includes diverse crops such as garlic, heritage squash, rhubarb, and lavender. By reducing dependence on inputs like petroleum and fertilizers, grazing a small flock of sheep and lambs will contribute to creating a virtuous and self-sustaining cycle. These animals play a crucial role in helping with mowing, enriching the soil, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and feeding multiple families, all while benefiting from respectful living conditions.

The Red Barn component of the project, maintained since its inception, focuses on the essential food needs of the family. Spanning 3 acres, it includes a vegetable garden, a perennial herb and vegetable garden, and plans for future small-scale poultry, turkey, and rabbit farming. A processing activity is currently under development with the creation of a kitchen for preparing small fruit syrups, jams, and canned lamb dishes. Additionally, conference-type activities in the orchard take place once or twice a year to share their expertise and philosophy with the community.

Located in Eastern Ontario, in South Glengarry, an hour’s drive from Montreal and Ottawa, Avondale Orchard takes its name from the historic village of Avondale, now a locality. For Dany and Véronique, this project is not just a business venture but an invitation to rethink our relationship with the land and our food for a more sustainable and harmonious future.
Together, they demonstrate that the future of our food lies in reconciling with our agricultural traditions and becoming aware of the choices we make every day. This project embodies a return to our roots, where each fruit and vegetable grown tells a story of respect and commitment to individual and planetary health.

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Cucumber picking

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