oplar Valley Organic Farms Inc. was founded by Clement and Linda Perrault. Theirs is a shared story of humble beginnings, true grit and tenacity. Over 20 years later theirs is still a story of humility, hard work, and stick-to-it-ness, with a generous portion of vision and internal wisdom.
“I don’t know if I would have been able to start this if I had known it would take twenty years to get this far!” Clem says.
A Typical Farmer’s Story
Clem was born on January 2, 1957 in Zenon Park, Saskatchewan. He grew up on the family farm and finished grade 12 at the local school. After high school he went to work in Calgary for a year in a steel foundry then came back to help on the farm in the spring. He helped with the farming until the fall then went to work on a drilling rig. He worked away every winter from 1975-1980 and returned to farm every summer.
Clem and Linda met in the fall of 1980 and were married on July 11, 1981…
-As told by Clement F. Perrault
We lived on a small acreage for 5 years before moving onto the family farm where we live now. We were farming 4000 acres with my father, brother and uncle. I knew then that conventional farming wasn’t for me. We had a good sized farm with cattle and we were barely making it!
I didn’t like what we had to do to get a crop. Putting all of the inputs into the ground and then selling our grain to the huge grain companies at their price which is influenced by world commodities.
I was the one that did all the spraying; since I was very young it had always been my job. I didn’t know anything about the products I was using to spray our fields with. We never took any precautions. I never wore gloves or protective clothing.
In 1985 we started to farm organic. We had purchased a half-section which had 40 acres of bush land which was virgin land and had never been sprayed or fertilized. We decided to grow 40 acres of Organic Flax; we didn’t have a certification body then. I called Omega Nutrition and they purchased the flax on an affidavit.
In 1986 the crop was larger and we had our first inspection. A gentleman from Flora came down to check our field and our records to make sure that everything was well documented; there still was no certification body. It was a private certification. Our transition to Organic was easy as we had 1/3 of our farm in alfalfa which was automatically organic so we worked it under.
Poplar Valley Organic Farms Inc.
We were increasing our production and realized that we needed a grain cleaning facility and marketing company. We incorporated Poplar Valley Organic Farms Inc. in 1989. We continued getting our products custom cleaned until 1995. Then we built our cleaning plant. We still had to use some custom cleaning to keep the necessary level of sales volume. We were shipping a lot of products to Europe in the beginning. Slowly we watched the markets in Canada and the USA as they grew. We realized that as the markets in North America grew we were getting more and more competition in the bulk and bagged market. We knew that we had to differentiate us from the rest, customer oriented and quality products, this is what we pride ourselves on; we provide excellent service, excellent product and we accommodate mixed loads.
In 1997 we decided to launch an organic horse feed called "Genesis" Organic Horse Feed. We made some to try it out, but we were ahead of our time. Now it seems that time has come, and the world is ready for organic horse feed.