This is the fifth of a series of profiles of young egg farmers. They are all young leaders taking part in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program.
Pascale Mageau-Béland is a professional engineer who has worked in the mining industry in Montreal for the past eight years. In 2017, she added another job title to her resume: egg farmer.
Pascale grew up on her family egg and poultry farm in Outaouais, Quebec with her father, Nil Béland and siblings Geoffroy, Judith and Blanche. She met her husband Marco while studying engineering at Polytechnique Montréal. After graduating from university, the couple settled in Montreal and began their careers in engineering.
But, Pascale says after a few years of living and working in Montreal, “we realized that we do like our jobs… but we also loved to spend time at the farm and being involved with that. So we spoke with my father and asked how we could get more involved.”
The couple established Ferme Pascale et Marco Inc. in 2017 after purchasing land and quota from Pascale’s father. Their business features a brand new free range organic egg barn that currently houses 8,400 hens, and has been operational since 2018.
As they were growing their farm business, they were also growing their family: their daughter, Florence, was born in April 2018. Immersed in farm-life right from the beginning—Florence was born right in the middle of the construction of their new barn—Pascale says she loves spending time at the farm and with the animals. “A chicken was the first animal she could identify.”
Pascale and Marco continue to live in Montreal with Florence, where they both work full-time in their respective engineering careers. They manage their farm business remotely with the help of staff—“we’re on the phone every day with our staff,” says Pascale—and they make the 1.5-hour trip to the farm on weekends. Their long-term plan is to move to the farm and be more involved in its day-to-day operation. They have also started a farm succession plan that will eventually see them take ownership of Pascale’s family farm when her father retires, becoming the third generation to operate the farm started by her grandparents.
Pascale, who wants to get more involved locally with the Fédération des producteurs d’œufs du Québec, is taking an opportunity to learn more about the egg industry by participating in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program in 2020. She says the opportunity to meet with, and learn from, other young farmers in the egg industry is what interested her about the program. “Most of the conferences we go to, it’s mostly older farmers,” says Pascale, “so I’m interested to meet other young farmers like us… we learn differently, and have different ideas.”