The Canadian magazine Country Guide, specialized in agricultural strategic and commercial information, published 10 times a year in two versions, West and East, titled the cover page of its February 1st , 2011 edition “Country Guide’s 12 most influential farmers in Canada”. Among those 12 persons was Simon Parent, owner of Novafruit inc. Here is the article dedicated to him:
"SIMON PARENT: redefining what it means to be a farmer in one of Canada’s oldest farm communities.

If you think influence comes with age, getting to know Simon Parent might help change your mind. At 33, he had already become a key figure in Quebec’s strawberry industry. Then, just a year ago, he became the president of the North American Strawberry Growers Association (NASGA).

Parent’s business is strawberry transplants. In 2002, he started Novafruit with respected nursery owner Alain Massé. In 2009, Massé’s mentorship ended. Parent bought a new site southeast of Montreal and injected a fresh dose of adrenaline into Novafruit.

The company’s inception was inspired by a readiness for change that Parent felt whenever he spoke with Quebec’s most innovative growers. Parent realized the proper varieties — and the proper technologies — were just not available up north. Novafruit would solve that problem, adapting transplant systems to local conditions.

Parent’s round face and timid smile could mislead you into thinking he’s even younger than his age. But his words soon make you realize he must have been doing research and trials, and also been travelling and problem solving for several years. His business has a sharp focus on developing and marketing the most productive types of strawberry plants, both for short-day and day-neutral systems.

In 10 years, Novafruit has become Quebec’s leading provider of strawberry plants in the form of plugs, tray plants and frigo plants. These technologies are more expensive, Parent admits. But they help farmers make more money by saving on labour and obtaining better yields, as well as by stretching the season both earlier and as late as October.

Now, Parent has become an agent of change in his industry. Convincing clients to adopt his technologies not only helps them produce more and better-quality strawberries, it helps Quebec strawberry growers keep an edge that is the envy of growers in Ontario and New England.

“We have a five-year technological advance,” Parent says. Quebec may produce only 12,000 tonnes of strawberries annually, but in terms of total area used to grow them, it ranks third, after California and Florida.

Nowhere else in Canada have local strawberry growers maintained as large a market share as in Quebec, where they have approximately two-thirds of supermarket shelf space during the season. Fighting back against U.S. imports may just be a matter of national pride.

That pride may also be what attracted NASGA to Montreal last August, for its Summer Tour 2010. “Our producers are seen as the elite of production in this part of the continent,” Parent says. “Visitors tell us we have the reflex of always rethinking our production practices.”

Since Novafruit’s success depends on its clients’ success at not only growing but also selling strawberries, Parent is speaking directly to buyers. He does so as a board member of the recently formed “Coordination Chamber” of the Quebec Strawberry Growers Association (APFFQ), a committee that brings together growers, wholesalers and grocers to discuss and plan the supply of fresh, local strawberries and raspberries to supermarkets across the province.

Parent doesn’t grow the strawberries, but growers have come to trust him as a reliable spokesperson. National media know Parent is only a phone call away. And Parent knows any opportunity to boast local strawberries is an opportunity to make his business, and that of his clients, even more profitable."

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