This Ottawa-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm is helping connect consumers to their food and the industry that grows it.
As a self-professed “city girl”, Gabrielle Albert didn’t grow up in agriculture, but always felt a pull to the industry. “My parents often brought us to the Agriculture Museum in Ottawa and I even asked to go stay and work on a farm as one of our family trips,” she says. “I knew what a farmer was, I knew where my food came from, but for some reason I never realised that farming could be a career. That is, until I went to University.”
Originally studying Communications, Gabrielle continued her love affair with ag. “I made a point of travelling during the summer months. I wanted to discover new lands, new people, new cultures and new adventure. I didn’t know I would end up finding my passion and my career. To help cut travel costs, I started working on farms and various homesteads. That’s when I realised that I loved farming!”
Gabrielle went on to a career in Communications in Montreal after graduation but the call of farming was too strong. At age 24 she enrolled in the Ag College at University of Guelph French Campus in Alfred, Ontario. Carrot Boot Farms was born out of a term project to create a business plan for a new operation. The CSA farm now serves 40-plus clients in the Ottawa area with fresh, locally-grown produce. Gabrielle runs the farm with former classmate and partner Elyna Pierre-Gilles. They also rely on help from Gabrielle’s boyfriend and the volunteer efforts of their family. It’s a labour of love that shines through in everything they do, including their involvement with Ag More Than Ever.
“We feel it’s important to be ambassadors of Canada’s agriculture industry,” says Gabrielle. “As new farmers we wanted to make sure that our voices were being heard and that we were telling our version of the ag story. We saw an opportunity in having weekly contact with our clients and felt it was our responsibility to provide them with as much information as possible. You know your teachers, your dentist, and your family doctor – why wouldn’t you know your farmer?”
“You know your teachers, your dentist, and your family doctor – why wouldn’t you know your farmer?” – Gabrielle Albert
The farm shares Ag More Than Ever swag and maps to local farms with their clients in an effort to start a conversation. They are also quite active on social media. And, most importantly to Gabrielle, they practice complete transparency and invite their customers to experience ag first hand. “We have to walk the walk and open our doors to clients,” says Gabrielle. “Our clients are welcome to come see us in the field and see how their food is grown as opposed to just reading about it.”
It’s a responsibility Gabrielle doesn’t take lightly. “We have the chance to be in a field of work (pun intended) that has a direct, daily impact on people,” she says. “We have to take pride in this and in the work that we do! I’m not saying that the ag industry is perfect, but we can’t grow, evolve and change things for the better by being silent.”
“Canadian ag can only thrive if all farmers work together. We need small-scale, local farms just like we need large, broad-scale farms. The consumer needs us to step up to the plate and work together to ensure that we provide them with the best possible, Canadian made food and food products.”
Learn more about Carrot Boot Farms at bottesacarottes.com.