Innovation 101 – Ferme Chapeau Melon

A company in his image

Creating a business that looks like yourself is not a simple task. You have to face several challenges to succeed. François Biron, owner of the Ferme Chapeau Melon, was able to question and position himself to build his own business.

Some history 

From Chicoutimi, François Biron earns a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s degree in plant biology from the Université Laval. With his degrees in hand, he moved in the Outaouais region to work for the Department of Agriculture. However, he soon realized that this work environment did not suit him. In 2012, he bought his farm in the municipality of L’Ange-Gardien where he began farming fields. He quickly realized that he had to find his niche in the Outaouais agri-food market.

The turning point

François had several options, but none seemed to procure enough satisfaction. He could lower his prices, which would allow him to “push” his competitors. However, this solution would give him less income. It is also difficult to invent new vegetables. In order to achieve that, you would need to get into genetics and that is a different story. So how could he stand out?

He questioned the issues of agriculture in the Quebec province, the limiting factors. Winter was at the top of the list with its unfavorable climate. Market garden production is difficult from November to May. François adapted his greenhouses so that they would be functional during this period. In addition to giving him an advantage over his competitors by lengthening his production period, his innovation allowed him to integrate sweet potato and baby ginger into his product offer.

Finding the right resources

François knew how to surround himself to realize his project. The Plate-forme agricole de L’Ange-Gardien was helpful in providing him with the tools he needed to get started. Not seeing the wood for the trees, François is so involved in his business that it is sometimes difficult for him to see the elements that need to be improved. He benefits from the help of consultants to see what he is no longer able to see. His circle of friends (university graduates in his field) is never far away. He can always count on their help.

With his production increasing annually, an additional pair of arms is more than welcome. The Ferme Chapeau Melon welcomes a university intern in agronomy during the summer season.

François’ advice

Listening to yourself and knowing yourself is François’ first advice. To have fun in your own business, it must reflect who you are. To do this, you must know what you love and what you don’t like.

His other advice is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses in order to focus on the former and find help for the latter.

 

Article made as part of the Regional Support Fund (FARR). (In French only)

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