We live in the city. It wasn’t the case about 30 years ago when my parents bought a home about 4 streets from where I am now living. Back when I was younger, this was considered the country. I had friends on the North shore of the St-Lawrence that had never even crossed the bridge. Behind my parents’ home was woods. Endless miles and miles of woods that belonged to old families that had been around these parts forever. Untouched. I used to catch tadpoles and minnows there, climb trees and have grand adventures.
Since then, things have changed. When Quebec City became too expensive and over crowded, developers started buying land in the “country” around the city. We are now part of the suburbs. Gone are all the woods behind my childhood home. All we see stretching for miles around now are bigger homes, smaller lots, rising property taxes and endless rush hour traffic.
See, our little town wasn’t zoned for anything but living. So when more “living” needed to be done, they did it here. But it wasn’t the case everywhere. 2 towns down, farms stayed farms and that makes me feel like I still live in the country.
Early Saturday morning, we packed up the kids, water bottles and snacks and headed to one of our favorite farms, La Ferme Genest. (I’m sorry if the site is only in French, but do click on the tabs to see pictures of this amazing place.) We went over to pick another 5 lbs of raspberries and were happily surprise that the u-pic corn season had started. What fun to be had. So on we worked, gathering, picking, enjoying the mild morning sun and the song of birds. After an hour, we were done.
Then the real fun began.
See, what makes the Genest family one of our favorite families around is the fact that picking is only the beginning of the fun. The land they’ve owned for almost 200 years is only a 1/4 mile wide, but it stretches from the banks of the St-Lawrence River 1 1/2 miles inland. And when you stop in and say hello, that land is completely opened to you. Everything from the sugar bush to the South to the dense pine forest to the North is accessible. They give anyone (regardless of whether you pay for something or not) access to the grounds. You can bring a picnic, run through their orchards, play in the woods, pick the wild flowers… anything you want as long as you respect the land and all the grows and lives on it. And you can do this 12 months out of the year. It is where the kiddos walk the enchanted woods to visit Santa Claus, it is where we pick our pumpkins every year. They have seen my children be born and grow.
I feel very lucky to have beautiful places like this so near. We were at the farm at 8 am that morning and came home close to 1 pm. The kids were spent, filled with fresh air, their skin slightly salted with sweat. And there will be many more visits to many other farms in this beautiful area. Visits to go say hello and thank you to hard working local people who feed us, treat us like friends. We miss many of them when winter comes, but our yearly reunions are so joyous.
Do you have amazing people like this near you? I would love to hear about them. Please share their info here so people can find them! Local heroes like our farmers deserved to be known.