Cookbook | Vyckie Vaillancourt and its Laval citrus fruits


The catering and gourmet agriculture worlds are full of stories, reflections and solutions. Once a month, we give the floor to those who make up the richness and diversity of Quebec’s food trades.

Posted at 11:00 a.m.

Iris Gagnon Paradise

Iris Gagnon Paradise
The Press

Vyckie Vaillancourt did not plan to become the seventh generation at the helm of the family farm in Laval. But faced with the lack of succession, she decides to try her luck, with an idea in her pocket that is as surprising as it is brilliant: starting her own cultivation of exotic citrus fruits in a greenhouse. Welcome to O’Citrus.

First serve

  • The Chez Vaillancourt kiosk has been offering fresh fruits and vegetables and other local products since 1950.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    The Chez Vaillancourt kiosk has been offering fresh fruits and vegetables and other local products since 1950.

  • It is possible to pick your own Roma tomatoes on site.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    It is possible to pick your own Roma tomatoes on site.

  • The kiosk is open daily.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    The kiosk is open daily.

  • The large greenhouses make it possible to launch seedlings and also to grow plants used for mosaiculture.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    The large greenhouses make it possible to launch seedlings and also to grow plants used for mosaiculture.

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“I saw my father work a lot and I was more or less interested in that. Instead, I studied public relations. But I don’t have any brothers or sisters, so at some point my father told me that we should think about selling the farm. It came to get me. I couldn’t let the farm go the same! So I thought I would give it a try. In the end, I’ve been trying for five and a half years… It’s made my job!

“We grow about 15 varieties of vegetables on 150 hectares. We mainly sell at the roadside kiosk and we offer pick-your-own strawberries and raspberries and also vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplant. We also sell flowers, it was my grandmother who started that.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY VYCKIE VAILLANCOURT

Mosaiculture being created in a greenhouse at Ferme Vaillancourt

“My father started making mosaics of plants in the 2000s. We went to Japan, China… We also supply pieces for Mosaïcultures Québec. We also built this year a new complex of greenhouses to accommodate the large structures. It keeps us busy and it replenishes our coffers. Especially since this year, we have a big financial loss because of a virus that attacked the plants. »

second service

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

O’Citrus’ Citrus Greenhouse

“When I finally decided to try to take over the family business, I did my course in entrepreneurship at HEC. One of the projects was to start a business. Several years ago, my father went to the greenhouse for his pleasure some trees – yuzus, a kumquat, a calamondin. It was while walking in the greenhouses that the idea for O’Citrus came to me.

“At the end of the day, this project, I realized it for real! »

I grow more specific citrus varieties. What adds value to my product is that these are citrus fruits that you can’t find fresh here. Today, I do business with about twenty restaurants, mainly in Montreal, but as far away as Edmonton.

Vyckie Vaillancourt

  • A Buddha's hand that will be harvested in a few weeks, when it will be a beautiful yellow color.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    A Buddha’s hand that will be harvested in a few weeks, when it will be a beautiful yellow color.

  • Yuzu is the main citrus fruit grown at O'Citrus.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    Yuzu is the main citrus fruit grown at O’Citrus.

  • The fragrant lime kefir and its leaves

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    The fragrant lime kefir and its leaves

  • Calamondin, a small bitter orange, is also sought after.

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    Calamondin, a small bitter orange, is also sought after.

  • The mysterious caviar lemon

    PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

    The mysterious caviar lemon

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“I love Buddha’s Hand, it’s one of my most prized citrus fruits. It’s really the zest that is used in baking, to make chocolate or ice cream, it’s super flavorful. I also have several kefir lime trees, the leaves of which are also used. The two places that buy me the most are Le Mousso and the Feys chocolate factory, in Oka.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY VYCKIE VAILLANCOURT

The amazing caviar lemon.

“I did some tests, like here, I have bergamot. The leaves are used in perfumery, but also for Earl Gray tea. I also have some caviar lemon trees [finger lime en anglais]. The interior is filled with small balls, like lemon caviar. It’s great for oysters, ceviche, tartare. It’s one of the products that I get asked the most, but I don’t have a very large production.

“Calamondins are very bitter and give a lot of juice. They are used to make bitters or in cooking with fish. Two years ago, I made a white beer with Brasserie Mille-Îles, a special edition. The cool thing is that calamondin grows four times a year, unlike yuzu, which only produces once.

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

Some trees in O’Citrus’ greenhouse

“I bet a lot on yuzu because it is a tree that grows in Japan, where it is still cold in winter. The yuzu needs a cold temperature to “go to sleep”, and then it starts again in February. When I have finished my harvest, I lower the temperature to around 12°C.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY VYCKIE VAILLANCOURT

It’s almost harvest season for O’Citrus.

“The citrus harvest season lasts from late September to mid-November. Winter is the season of flowering. It smells so good! I come for a walk here, it’s warm in the greenhouse even if it’s -20°C outside! »

Third serve

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

Vyckie Vaillancourt is the seventh generation of Vaillancourt to cultivate on these lands where his ancestors settled in 1780.

“We are currently in the process of succession. There has also been my cousin Dérek Vaillancourt for two years, who would possibly take over with me. There would therefore be two of us to take over the family farm, the seventh generation of Vaillancourt since 1780.”

Of course, each generation wants to bring something new. Citrus allowed me to find my place. I was more or less interested in sticking to the existing mold, I wanted to have my personal project that would allow me to stand out, to add my essence to the farm.

Vyckie Vaillancourt

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

Workers in the fields of Ferme Vaillancourt

“That said, I don’t want to put all my lemons in one basket! Our big chunk of income comes from the farm and O’Citrus wouldn’t have existed if I didn’t have access to the farm facilities in place. I have 124 trees and for now I have no plans to grow. I want to keep the spirit of the niche product.

“I would like to get into events in the lemon greenhouse. I receive a lot of requests for workshops, guided tours… I tell myself that there is a niche to look for in there.

“As we are on an agricultural territory, it means that we cannot do everything. And that bothers me a lot. I would like to build an outdoor kitchen, and offer meals on the farm. But it’s complicated. I would have to request a country table, but it’s a maximum of 20 people. How do you make your costs profitable with this?

“The goal is to promote Quebec products and those who grow them. Does it matter if we have 500 people at a meal if I use vegetables from here? Honestly, I have trouble understanding where the problem is! »



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