High-tech farming, the natural way
What does the term “modern agriculture” mean to you? Do you envision a huge factory farm, churning out livestock at staggering rates, or do you see the future of farming as more of a return to the pioneer days?
While it’s true that both these trends exist in the agricultural world – mega-farming equals mega profits all while consumers are becoming more environmentally and morally conscious – a happy medium does exist.
Unlike many farm operations, Ferme Sanglier des Bois was not an inherited business. Rather, it started as a student project led by both Nathalie Laroche and Charles Fortier, now husband and wife with four young children.
As part of the institution’s SAAC (Agriculture, Food and Consumption Week), the students were tasked with creating a unique agricultural pilot project that would be showcased to attendees.
Going above and beyond, Nathalie and Charles raised a group of five wild boars on land that Nathalie’s grandparents graciously offered in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaure, Quebec. The project resulted in five delicious méchouis (spit-roasted boars) and served as a launch pad for what would become a permanent side business.
Today, Nathalie and Charles run Ferme Sanglier des Bois while both pursuing demanding engineering careers – making efficiency a necessity and not an option.
What makes Ferme Sanglier des Bois unique?
Ferme Sanglier des Bois in Saint-Augustin-De-Desmaures, Québec is just that: a relatively small wild boar farming operation that cares just as much about the quality of the meat it produces as it does about the happiness of the animals. In fact, owners Nathalie and Charles believe that you can’t have one without the other.
By combining entirely natural farming practices and some of the most cutting-edge genetic traceability systems in the niche boar farming industry, Ferme Sanglier des Bois is breaking the agricultural mold in more ways than one.
A boar with 38 chromosomes indicates that the animal has been crossed with a regular pig.
Thanks to this due diligence, consumers enjoy robust-tasting cuts of 100% boar meat — the only “wild game certified” boar meat produced in the province of Quebec.
While the attention to detail may seem over the top, Nathalie strongly believes that Ferme Sanglier des Bois’ knowledge and use of technology is one of its biggest strengths.
“We were trained as engineers,” she says. “Therefore, it was easy for us to implement traceability systems, registers and statistical tracking in our operations. It brings a professional aspect to our farm.”
This is all the more important in the wild game meat industry, as consumers are paying a premium price for products and expect quality and taste that far exceeds what they can find through traditional channels, such as grocery stores.
“It’s very rare in Quebec to deal directly with the farm that is raising the animals … even the regular consumers are interested in learning about where the products come from.”
Creating a digital presence
Ferme Sanglier des Bois is a shining example of a business that quickly and effectively pivoted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not only did they create an online store within weeks, but they also completely shifted their client base from businesses to individual consumers.”
When the pandemic first hit in March 2020, Nathalie and Charles were left in a difficult predicament: the majority of their boar products had been selling to restaurants shut down by the lockdown orders. They were forced to pivot their business online in order to serve individual consumers.
Like countless agricultural operations, Ferme Sanglier des Bois did not have an online presence whatsoever, as there was no need for a website when selling to wholesalers.