Cabbage supplier, Saint-Lin-Laurentides
The Bérard family’s cabbage is the one behind St-Hubert’s beloved coleslaw. Traditional or creamy, it doesn’t matter: the important thing for the Saint-Lin–Laurentides producers is providing a fresh, crunchy and locally produced ingredient all year round.
“I am proud to know that a lot of people eat cabbage grown on our farm,” says René.
René and Germaine Bérard, along with their children Sébastien and Catherine and other family members, run Jardins G & R, a family business in Lanaudière who has mastered the art of cabbage production. Much to our customers’ delight, the Bérard family dedicates more than 600 acres to cabbage harvesting, which eventually makes its way into our rotisseries and coleslaw salads in grocery stores.
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Vegetable roots run deep through the family
René’s interest in vegetable production isn’t new. The son of vegetable growers learned the trade from his father before getting married and cultivating a small portion of land, which he developed over the years. In 1980, René and his wife Germaine founded Jardins G & R, each letter honoring the founders’ names. Réal and Ginette, one’s brother and the other’s sister, also helped the couple.
“Becoming a major cabbage producer was a dream of mine,” explains René. Today, it’s safe to say that his dream came true: Jardins G & R is one of the biggest cabbage growers in Canada.
Actually, this consistency in cabbage supplies has become the local producer’s trademark. The Bérard family perfected a technology to improve their specialized warehouses, which enabled them to guarantee a fresh and crunchy product all year round, to enjoy at home or at the restaurant. Inside, over 25,000 boxes weighing 1,000 pounds each, filled with cabbage, sit on top of each other. Very few producers in the country have this type of equipment at hand, making the Bérard family a leader in its field.
A dream that only grows bigger with each generation
“The land is part of our childhood and the way we were raised. It’s a privilege to make his dream our own and keep it alive,” explains Catherine.
One could say that the Bérard children are real-life Cabbage Patch Kids. As a child, Catherine remembers sitting on the tractor driven by her mother to harvest vegetables with her family. Later, the family business enabled the Bérard teenagers to have a summer job and better understand vegetable cultivation.
Today, Catherine holds a management position at Jardins G & R. She is responsible for workplace health and safety, as well as client and employee relations. As for Sébastien, he is in charge of everything that relates to production. From planting to growing and harvesting, he knows all about cabbage!
When asked what was the benefit of working with her father, Catherine replied: “we can trust each other because we share a special bond. No matter what happens, you know there is someone there to support you.”
Cabbage harvested and eaten locally
The Bérard family’s story with St-Hubert goes way back. Cabbage harvested by the Lanaudière producers made its way from one rotisserie to another over four decades and, little by little, has ended up in our coleslaw salads sold in grocery stores and in nearly all of our restaurants.
As Catherine explains, the idea was to allow people to enjoy the same coleslaw, both at the restaurant and at home. While we’re on the subject, is the Bérard family more the traditional or creamy type? “Traditional! We’re asked this question pretty often!,” answers René, laughing. Catherine agrees: “my husband orders the creamy coleslaw, but we don’t! You can taste the cabbage better in the traditional one.”