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Agriculture |  The couple's blind dream continues

Agriculture | The couple's blind dream continues

It is a story of perseverance and solidarity. The agricultural dream of a blind couple will be able to continue thanks to the generosity of donors and the support of an entrepreneur who “improvised himself in the form of a dragon” by investing in their business.

Daniel Boonen and Maris Sauvé are a couple in life and work. In 2018, they launched the breeding farm À la canne blanche, a play on words referring to the fact that they are blind and raise laying ducks.

“With the white cane, we decided to wear it voluntarily to say: We are two blind people achieving success,” says Daniel Bonin, who underwent 29 eye surgeries from the age of 2 to 5 and suddenly became blind. I am 20 years old. “When I lost my sight, in my case, I felt embarrassed, I felt ashamed, I thought my life was over.”

Photo by Martin Tremblay, Press

Ducks Daniel Boonen and Maris Sauvé

“We all think so,” adds Maryse Sauvé, who suffers from a rare genetic disease, rod-cone dystrophy. “I'm on the verge of losing my vision and there are days when I say it's not easy, but it gives us a reason to live. We've accomplished it!”

We have something alive on the other end. The ducks are there to remind us: “Hey, we're here, the rest of us, even at Christmas! Go!”

Maryse Sauvy, from the À la canne blanche breeding farm

Nearly 600 birds are raised on their land at Stockley Sud in Estrie. The duo sells about 250,000 eggs each year, with approximately 100,000 produced at home and the rest purchased from another farm.

Last April, their partner announced that he intended to stop producing eggs due to the challenges posed by the bird flu pandemic.

To continue supplying all their customers, they decided to build a second breeding building, estimated to cost about $200,000. However, they are having difficulty obtaining support from the Financière agricole du Québec.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, Press

Duck eggs are sold in major restaurants in Quebec. They are also sold in some grocery stores and in Lufa Farms baskets.

The farmers believe that because of their special status as blind people, donors are reluctant to invest more in their project.

“Because of our disability, they have to be careful about what they say, so it's always: 'We don't say yes, we don't say no, but we haven't heard back yet,'” deplores Mr. Hans. Bunin.

Crowdfunding campaign

Instead of giving up, in May 2023 they decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on the GoFundMe platform.

“The day we entered the Enter for the GoFundMe contest, it was because we were desperate,” Mr. Bonin confirms. “We did it with our heads down because we no longer had a choice. We kept our heads down, and every day we saw the donations come in, I can tell you our heads are up. And not just because of the donations, but because of the comments that came in!”

The result: Thanks to the help of 402 generous donors, they have raised $27,726 so far. “We were so touched, what word would be strong enough to say thank you?” said MI security.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, Press

Every year, approximately 100,000 duck eggs are produced on the À la canne blanche breeding farm.

Her husband adds, “Beauty is the people who believed in us more than we were able to believe in ourselves.” “For all these people, we will never give up.”

The vessel was used to conduct excavations and surveying and to employ an architect and an expert in agricultural economics.

New partner

Media coverage of the case also allowed Daniel Bonin and Maris Sauvy to meet businessman and investor Sébastien Gregoire, whom they affectionately call “The Dragon,” in reference to the TV show.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, Press

Maryse Sauvy and Daniel Boonen

The latter spontaneously picked up the phone after hearing an interview with farmers on the radio. The couple invited him to the farm that afternoon.

“Meeting them was love at first sight and it's nice to choose people instead of a project for once,” explains the man who was impressed by their resilience. He jumped into this adventure when he became a shareholder in the company.

“We still didn't have the funding for the new building, so I pumped it in personally,” he explains.

For now, at least, you don't have to worry about chasing money to allow the project to move forward.

Sébastien Gregoire, businessman and investor

An actuary by training, he admits that he finds it difficult to understand the risks they face in their search for funding.

“It seems scary that these two people are visually impaired. For me, it's the opposite, it motivates me. I say, 'If it doesn't stop them and they have a lot of motivation, well, oh my God, this is perfect' a team“. »

The new building is being constructed well. If all goes well, they will be able to welcome their first ducklings in February.

“The building we are building is what allows us to continue to enjoy our joy and our taste for living while preserving this little block that we have,” rejoices Maryse Sauvé.

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