By Taylor McClure
Special to Brome County News
Huilerie l’Arôme des champs, a 500-acre organic farm in Bromont that grows sunflowers and produces sunflower oil, among other crops, held a unique event in their fields Aug. 6. In partnership with the Town of Bromont and Tourisme Bromont, Huilerie l’Arôme des champs opened its fields to the public with a 5 à 7 event, live music, and local food to help promote agro-tourism in Bromont. Family run, Joany Brodeur and her partner Martin Vallée, along with her parents who have 20 years experience as organic producers, have created a niche for themselves in the agricultural world of the Eastern Townships producing their sunflower oil.
“It was a partnership with the Town of Bromont and Tourisme de Bromont. They asked me in March if I was interested in opening the season with la Tournée Escale,” said Brodeur. “It’s a mobile show they created an event tdue to Covid hat just requires a van which transforms into a stage. They can go all over Quebec to do s shows.”
The event also included catering from La Buvette de famille. “They cook with a lot of producers in Brome-Missisquoi so they used our oil and all of our products here at the farm. They offered vegetable platters, charcuterie boards, with beer and cider stations. All of the products were from the Eastern Townships.”
Opening up their sunflower fields, which Huilerie l’Arôme des champs does every year during the last couple weeks of Aug., the event brought in hundreds from all over the region. “We had the sun, the beer, the food, the show, and the sunflowers, it was the perfect match with over 200 people at the sold-out event.”
Brodeur explained that the event was all about promoting local agriculture. “The goal of the event was to promote agro-tourism in Bromont and to support producers here in Bromont. La Tournée Escale also wanted to offer visitors to Bromont a special event.”
Brodeur and Vallé are just two of many agricultural producers in Bromont establishing a name for themselves with their organic farm Huilerie l’Arôme des champs.
While her parents take care primarily of producing the sunflower crops and other products like soya, corn, wheat, and grain, Brodeur and Vallé produce the sunflower oil after purchasing equipment from an oilerie in Valley Field in 2019. “My mom and step-father are producers with 20 years of experience as organic producers. My boyfriend and I bought the oilerie, the first organic sunflower oilerie in Quebec. We moved the equipment here and brought the customers. It’s a family business where my mom and stepfather do the producing in the fields and I’m transforming the seeds.”
Transformation of the seeds or ‘grain’ only occurs after the sunflowers have blossomed. “The flowering is only two weeks, approximately the first and second week of August, and after that the sunflowers start to produce grain. They are not dead, but they are not flowering. The grain is what we are going to use to do the oil. We take the grain and press it to extract the oil in the grain. We can press 200 litres per day. It takes like five flowers to produce one litre of oil. Each year, we have approximately twomillion flowers in our fields.”
Brodeur said that coming across an organic sunflower producer is rare as it is a difficult crop to work with. “When we make a field of sunflowers, we can’t use the same field each year. We have to wait six years to replant the sunflowers there. We have to watch for disease and make sure we have good grain. We rotate our crops so next year, the sunflower fields we have right now, will be corn and where we have wheat right now , we will plant sunflowers. With organic production, it’s a must to do that.”
Huilerie l’Arôme des champs opens up its sunflower fields every year free of charge, but Brodeur said they appreciate it when people come to visit the boutique so that they can continue to promote what they do best. “We like it when people come to the boutique and we can explain what we are doing here and they can taste the oil.”
In the last year some 20,000 litres of sunflower oil have been sold and they farm team hopes to continue to establish themselves in the area. “The oilerie that we bought was in Valleyfield so they developed the Montreal region, but now we are here so we want to develop the Estrie and Eastern Townships region. It was a big move for us to buy an oilerie to produce sunflower fields.”