The Man Who Planted Apple Trees
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Guy Ducharme has always had a passion for trees. Born in Saint-Félix-de-Valois, the agronomist chose the Outaouais to put down roots (literally) at the Verger Croque-Pomme orchard.
He’s been fascinated by fruit trees since he was a child. “We had a farm. I asked my father to plant trees, but he wasn’t too keen on the idea,” he recalls.
After graduating in rural economics, he became a professor at the University of Guelph’s Alfred Campus, in eastern Ontario. In 1994 he discovered the Thurso area, and a year later he planted his first apple tree. Why apple trees? The answer is simple: “I like things that last a long time.”
Until 2000, he considered his project a hobby. It was in 2007 that he decided to devote himself full-time to his orchard. Besides apple trees, there are plum trees, pear trees, berries, squash, and a medicinal garden. “We also have asparagus: it’s long-lasting too!” he adds with a smile.
The next generation emerged in 2014 in the form of Fater, who arrived from Syria with a degree in agronomy and a doctorate in microbiology. If there are figs growing at Croque-Pomme, it’s thanks to Fater!
This timely succession allowed Mr. Ducharme to take a sabbatical year—not to watch the apples grow, but to work in Burkina Faso as an agricultural advisor. He returned from that experience with this observation: “The planet must be reforested. It’s the only way to save it. This is a universal statement: we have to take action! If we wait for someone else to do it … You know, it takes 100 trees to compensate for the pollution produced by a single car,” he tells me. Considering that the Croque-Pomme orchard has some 3,000 trees, Mr. Ducharme has certainly done his part to help the planet breathe.
What is he most proud of? “My first apple tree. Finding the land and creating this project. And the wonderful thing about the Outaouais is that we have six more weeks of summer than the rest of Quebec!”
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