Portrait Gourmand | Agneaux de Laval in the heart of Laval

Isabelle Vallée
Blogger-curious and nosy

Professional and passionate about 2.0 marketing, Isabelle Vallée has long contributed to Montreal's cultural vitality by handling communications for the city's biggest fashion events. Now self-employed since 2011, she supports organizations in their online presence challenges by offering 360° Web strategy, community management and personalized content marketing services. In January 2015, Isabelle launched the cultural platform, for which she acts as editor-in-chief and photographer. Curious, foodie, culture lover, she shares on this blog what to see, what to do, what to discover on the North Shore, in Laval and in the Laurentians.


In Laval's Auteuil district, Agneaux de Laval has been welcoming visitors for over 10 years in a perfectly landscaped bucolic setting, with a flock of sheep grazing on tall grass on one side, and magnificent greenhouses and gardens on the other. It's the perfect place to come for a little jaunt into the local agri-tourism world. Meet Donald Beaulieu, a passionate entrepreneur devoted to his employees ... and his sheep!



First of all, what made you decide to start raising sheep... in Laval?

People know me mainly for my landscaping services. After nearly 25 years in this profession (which I still practice with my company Serres Beaulieu), I wanted to diversify the company's activities (to tell the truth, external factors also forced me to do so) and I thought that raising lambs in Laval sounded like an interesting challenge, on both a personal and professional level (laughs). So, for the past 10 years, I've been combining my passion for lamb breeding with that of horticulture, two passions that I feel go hand in hand in an environment like this one, in Auteuil!


At Agneaux de Laval, you've been committed to animal welfare from day one. What does this mean in concrete terms?

For us, it was an obvious choice. Even before we started farming, we wanted to make our sheep as comfortable as possible. We wanted to create a healthy, respectful environment for our animals and the people who look after their daily well-being.

Our aim is to offer a fine, delicate meat of superior quality that will be appreciated by all epicureans. We believe that to appreciate the full delicacy of our lamb, it's imperative that the animal's nutrition and quality of life are paramount. Here, our flock gathers (mainly in winter) in a greenhouse converted into a sheepfold, which lets in light thanks to a white plastic sheet that has been affixed to it (a horticulturalist's professional deformation perhaps, I wanted to offer our animals natural light). In spring, the sheep go out into the pastures to graze on a tasty mix of white clover, millet and a variety of grasses sown on the land.

We are also very proud to offer a unique hormone- and antibiotic-free product. The hay used to feed the sheep is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and no growth hormones or steroids are used in our breeding.

Agneaux de Laval is alsoi a pretty little boutique open to the public where you offer a variety of local products. What can we find there?

Indeed, the concept behind Marché de la Ferme was first and foremost to offer consumers a single point of sale for fresh cuts of meat, but also to find a host of complementary products that people can use to prepare lamb at home. So, in addition to our mustard and jams, you'll find a selection of oils and fine products from local producers (carefully selected).

A few years ago, we realized that our fields were teeming with white clover. With the help of a local beekeeper, we decided to set up 16 beehives in the fields to harvest the honey! Our beekeeper Pierre harvests two or three times during the summer, and the honey (unpasteurized) is then sold exclusively in our boutique. It's a very tasty honey. Some say it literally tastes like flowers. What's more, it's excellent for cooking lamb!

This year, in addition to the boutique, we'll be offering outdoor herb picking to accommodate our customers. It's an enriching and educational activity that will also allow us to really find everything we need to prepare our lamb.

Sheep, chickens ... and ducks!

We currently have a flock of around 150 sheep on site. To complete our agrotourism offering, we're adding free-range chickens and ducks this year! This will enable us to offer our customers fresh eggs and duck products in our boutique, while bringing a lot of life to our farm!

Aside from the boutique and greenhouses, you've developed a great agri-tourism offering. What activities can visitors enjoy on the site?

In fact, for the past few years, my team and I have been working hard to make the Agneaux de Laval site a place where the whole family can enjoy themselves. So we've set up a lovely picnic area where people can bring their snacks and eat in the fields ... surrounded by our flock! People can also bring their own BBQ and supplement their meal with products sold in the boutique. Via Terroir en V, we also offer camping on our fields! It's a unique and original experience that we offer on an intimate basis, with only one camper per evening. Perfect for enjoying nature and observing the starry sky surrounded by our sheep!

The Agneaux de Laval boutique is open year-round, and soon it will be possible to purchase the delicious products of this Laval farm on its website, to everyone's delight! During the summer season, a visit is a must to discover the gardens and facilities, store for fresh flowers and herbs, enjoy the countryside in the city or simply drop in to see the sheep!

**Laval lambs are part of the Saveurs de Laval repertoire.