Ferme Bourgeois Farms distributes apples, including those from Washington State, to stores throughout New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in Canada.
History runs deep in Pré-d’en-Haut, where the tang of salt marshes blends with the scent of apple orchards in full bloom. This is the heart of historic Acadia in New Brunswick, Canada, where dense forests and the kindness of the region’s native Miq’maq people hid the handful of French settlers lucky enough to escape deportation by British troops in 1755.
Honoring that history is important at Ferme Bourgeois Farms, which has expanded from simply being a grower into a distributor, processor, and now a tourism destination.
“We want to sell not only our product but the experience of the orchard,” said Maxime Bourgeois, who has coordinated an interpretive display detailing the history of the orchard and its place in the region. The display is part of the farm’s participation in the 45-member, Quebec-based Economuseum Network.
To better handle the growing number of visitors to the orchard, Ferme Bourgeois has doubled the size of its on-farm shop to include a coffee counter where visitors can enjoy poutine à trou, a traditional Acadian apple dumpling.
The low price of fresh apples is a major reason for diversification, said Robert Bourgeois, who manages the family-owned farm with his brother Jean-Louis.
Though New Brunswick is the smallest of Canada’s apple-producing provinces, with production last year estimated at just over 190,000 bushels, buyers are typically loyal to local products. Still, Bourgeois said local growers face the same problem confronting those elsewhere.
“There’s too many apples around the world,” he said.
He believes diversification is one of the few ways growers can remain competitive.
Agritourism opportunities such as the economuseum and a thriving U-pick operation that attracts thousands of visitors to the orchard each fall are just two of the opportunities Bourgeois is pursuing.
He has also worked to replant his 85-acre orchard to high-density dwarf and semidwarf trees that have boosted apple production to between 40,000 and 50,000 bushels annually. Though the primary varieties are McIntosh and Cortland, newer plantings include Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold, and Jonagold.
Seven years ago, Bourgeois added sparkling apple juices and fruit wines to the farm’s offerings.
“I was looking for added value. And you look at what’s going on—there were people making pies, a lot of people making cheaper-priced juice. But there was nobody doing