The Mayor of Saint-Eustache, Mr. Pierre Charron, and the Chairman of the Economic Development Commission, City Councilor Patrice Paquette, announced the implementation of a project to establish an agricultural innovation zone, with, as a first step, the conclusion of an agreement with Collège Lionel-Groulx, with a view to providing theoretical and practical agricultural programs in Saint-Eustache.
The agricultural innovation zone is a unique project that is being rolled out in three phases. First with the establishment of a farm school, to train the next generation to face the challenges of tomorrow’s agriculture. Then, with the creation of a park dedicated to intensive organic farming, where young up-and-comers will be able to occupy twenty lots in this 7 million square foot space, to exploit this business model. And finally, in the last phase, with the creation of an agricultural incubator, which will allow young farmers, who will be supported by professionals in the field, to make their new business a viable business model. “After years of careful planning, everything is now aligned so that this extremely innovative project can unfold, further enhancing the agricultural sector and positioning Saint-Eustache as one of the most inspiring models of new agriculture,” said the mayor.
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A first agreement with Collège Lionel-Groulx
It was in the presence of Mr. Michel Louis Beauchamp, General Manager of Collège Lionel-Groulx, that elected officials from the city announced that college education programs in agriculture are being set up for the very first time in Saint-Eustache. These programs will eventually welcome a cohort of some 45 students per year. Under the agreement reached with the City of Saint-Eustache, the College will set up a farm-school, where the theoretical and practical teaching of its programs will be provided, on the adjacent agricultural land extending the Nature Park, for which a lease with option to purchase has been signed. This is a land that the City has worked in recent years to improve, in order to make it suitable for organic farming. Eventually, when the Lionel-Groulx College has obtained the necessary authorizations from the Quebec Ministry of Education (MEQ) and the Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Lands of Quebec (CPTAQ), this farm school will be established there permanently.
Conditions met for the establishment of the Agricultural Innovation Park
For emerging farmers, for whom the possibility of cultivating a plot of land near major centers has become practically an unattainable goal, the agricultural Innovation Park will offer about twenty plots to establish small ecological farms, where intensive organic farming will be practiced continuously. It is estimated that these farms will eventually be able to feed some 4,000 families. “This project has only economic, social and environmental advantages,” said Patrice Paquette, adding that the Agricultural Innovation Park will thus contribute concretely to food self-sufficiency, in addition to ensuring harmonious coexistence between agricultural and non-agricultural uses of the territory and to allow local consumption and marketing. “Since the Vieux-Saint-Eustache public market will be a showcase of choice for the organic products of these new farmers, this will also necessarily reduce GHG emissions related to the transport of foodstuffs. “, he added.
The Agricultural Innovation Park will be formed from different lots that the City wishes to acquire. To this end, the municipal council recently adopted a resolution to issue property tax notices on some forty lots, which will be distributed according to the natural or agricultural potential they offer. Many these lots will make it possible to perpetuate the Nature Park, while some others, specific to agriculture, will come to constitute the Agricultural Innovation Park. “All these acquisitions can be made without any impact on the municipal debt, thanks to the income generated, among other things, by the resale of the Autodrome as well as by the Economic Development Fund. “said mayor Pierre Charron.