Black Duck Farm near Alexandria is a small-scale producer of “high-quality pastured poultry” that mainly markets its meat to online customers and at farmers’ markets.
Operated by Adrien and Marie-Rose Quenneville, the farm is totally committed to regenerative agricultural principles which are comprehensively described on the farm’s website and Facebook page.
Adrien owes his agricultural background to growing up on his father’s hobby farm in Gananoque, near Kingston where his father worked at the Royal Military College and where he and Marie-Rose met in high school.
The couple decided to go into regenerative farming when they were in Thompson, northern Manitoba where Adrien was starting out his career as a commercial pilot.
As Adrien tells it, he learned about permaculture from a fellow swimmer at the local pool in Thompson, and then took Geoff Lawton’s popular online course to become a certified permaculture designer.
When Adrien subsequently switched companies in 2014 to work for Sunwing Airlines flying out of Montreal, he and his wife had to be within a two-hour drive of their workplace, so they bought their current property and began raising their first trial batch of 50 pasture-raised chickens.
They then signed up for the Chicken Farmers of Ontario artisanal chicken program, which allows production of up to 3,000 birds a year and have been with that program ever since.
In 2016, Black Duck Farm expanded to a nearby 20-acre property where six acres of pasture are reserved for the chickens that are brooded in modified trailers, then pastured in chicken tractors.
Adrien intends to continue his career as an airline pilot, while continuing his farming activities. Most airline work is during the winter months when farm work is naturally much less, but considerably fewer flying hours during the summer when farming chores are at their busiest!
He says that he is starting the process of building a low-cost, eco-friendly house in a clearing on the wooded portion of the nearby 20-acre property in order to have more space and be closer to the poultry pasture. In due course, he will then probably sell his existing house and land, which is already becoming somewhat too small for the couple and their five children.
Adrien feels that he, Benoit Jean of Hidden Trails Farms, and a few other local producers are kindred spirits in terms of sharing the same values. He is one of the partners in the new joint enterprise that is being developed to leverage synergies and complementarities within the Eastern Ontario agri-food ecosystem.