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From the daughter of farmers to brand ambassador for Patience Fruit & Co


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Some people become brand ambassadors because they are famous or because they already have a certain “status” in the public. They are seldom brand ambassadors because they are deeply devoted to the brand they represent. 

Marie-Michele Le Moine didn’t have the slightest idea that she would one day become the official brand ambassador for Patience Fruit & Co, the retail brand launched by Fruit d’Or in 2015, as she walked alongside her brothers and sisters to make her way to her parents’ organic cranberry farm. That was 20 years ago. Today, smiling cheek to cheek, she tells us about her childhood and the path that led her from the daughter of two farmers to brand ambassador.  

 

What is your earliest childhood memory of your parents’ farm?

As far back as I can remember, I was always at the farm and growing organic cranberries was an important part of my life. We even have pictures of little kids planting the cuttings for the first cranberry crop. I have so many great childhood memories but my oldest memory is definitely when my family met the Pilotte family. I was wearing a little yellow rain jacket and rubber boots…

 

The kids planting the first cranberry cuttings in the field.

 

Who is the Pilotte family exactly?

When my parents started growing cranberries, they teamed up with another family in the region, the Pilotte family. Over time, our families became really close. Our family has four kids and theirs has six. I’m the same age as Vicky (the Pilotte family’s 4th child), my brother, Francis, is the same age as Olivier (their 5th) and my sister, Catherina, is the same age as William (their 6th). Marcel and Jo-Anne, the mom and dad of the Pilotte family, always made us feel welcome in their home… That’s why I think of them as my second family.  

 

The Le Moine and Pilotte children having fun in the “sand pit” on a summer day.

 

Can you tell us what a typical day on a cranberry farm was like for children?

In the morning, one family’s kids called the others to meet at the “sand pit,” in the woods or at the lake. Sometimes we walked there and sometimes we rode our bikes. Every day was so different! When we weren’t playing with the animals, we were picking blueberries in the woods or riding ATVs. Each cranberry farm had a lake that was used for flooding the cranberry fields during harvests, so in the summer we spent lots of time swimming in the lake. In the winter we used that same lake for skating or we would attach a sled to the back of an ATV. We played outside all the time. We were really lucky to be able to spend our whole days outside with such good friends.

 

The three generations of the Le Moine family, playing hockey on the frozen cranberry fields in the winter.

    

Can you tell us what a typical day on a cranberry farm was like for children?

In the morning, one family’s kids called the others to meet at the “sand pit,” in the woods or at the lake. Sometimes we walked there and sometimes we rode our bikes. Every day was so different! When we weren’t playing with the animals, we were picking blueberries in the woods or riding ATVs. Each cranberry farm had a lake that was used for flooding the cranberry fields during harvests, so in the summer we spent lots of time swimming in the lake. In the winter we used that same lake for skating or we would attach a sled to the back of an ATV. We played outside all the time. We were really lucky to be able to spend our whole days outside with such good friends.

 

Why did your parents choose organic growing methods instead of conventional farming?

For the first two years my parents farmed conventionally because it was their only option at the time. But they noticed there was a species of bird that was leaving the farm. They were worried about it and felt there had to be a better way of doing things, leading to them to do organic farming only. Thankfully there are many birds and other animals around the farm!

 

Did the move from conventional to organic farming have an impact on your parents’ business?

You know, in the late 1990s, organic farming wasn’t what it is today. In 1998, we became the first farm to be officially certified organic in Canada. For the years that we farmed conventionally, we sold our fruit to a big American company. But when we decided to go organic, that industry giant wasn’t interested in our organic products. Looking back, that was probably one of the best things that could have happened to us because that’s what motivated us to sell our own cranberries and to then become, not only pioneers in organic farming in Canada but also industry leaders.

 

Did you always want to be a part of the family business?

Not at all. Even though I was involved in every part of my parents’ business from a young age, when I was a teenager I really felt the need to distance myself from it to find my own path. It was only as an adult that I really understood the impact it had on me and that I realized how important it was for me to advocate for the organic lifestyle that was instilled in me from a young age.  

 

Marie-Michele and the other children from the Le Moine and Pilotte families were practically born in the cranberry fields. They helped their families during the harvest season starting at a very young age.

 

Was your upbringing different because of your parents’ organic lifestyle?

Most definitely. My parents have always been advocates for the “slow” lifestyle that we promote at Patience Fruit & Co. My dad was already doing yoga 25 years ago, even if it wasn’t a bit popular at that time. At night he would show us the different breathing techniques taught by Yogis in the yoga world to put us to sleep. Plus, coming from a family that has always valued the environment that definitely played a part in who I am.   

 

Tell us a little about Patience Fruit & Co.

It’s a 100% organic small fruit brand, created in 2015 by Fruit d’Or, my parents’ company. Patience Fruit & Co was born out of a family desire to share our passion for organic cranberries but also to offer larger, softer and juicier fruit.

 

How is Patience Fruit & Co different from other companies?

I would say that what makes us an exceptional brand is of course, that it is organic but also that it is founded on the premise of “slow living”, a philosophy based on respecting the environment and the idea of taking one’s time. At Patience Fruit & Co, we strongly believe that it is better to do things properly than quickly and that is why we monitor our cranberries very closely. We plant, care for, harvest and prepare them ourselves. We basically do everything, from A to Z, which means we can offer people incomparable freshness, quality and taste. We also use a slower and unique pressing and drying technique that respects the integrity and the benefits of our small fruit.

 

What role do you play at Patience Fruit & Co?

Since the launch of the brand, I have been the director of the retail division and I actively participate in new market development. Because of my deep connection to the brand, I am also the official brand ambassador.

 

What are you most proud of, as brand ambassador for Patience Fruit & Co, a 100% organic brand?

To be able to transmit the values that were instilled in me, via the values of the brand. Back then, I may have laughed at my dad because of his hippieness and because he did yoga or when he would read the nutritional information on food products and tell us over and over again about making healthy food choices… And then I think of the person I turned out to be, with my “slow living” apartment, with no TV and my plethora of plants that I take care of after going to an Air Yoga class… I think it’s funny how we can follow in the footsteps of our parents, letting ourselves be steered in a certain direction without really realizing it. Because really, Patience Fruit & Co’s philosophy is, above all else, my family’s philosophy before being the brand’s philosophy. To be honest, I’m not especially comfortable being the brand’s frontwoman, but I think that we’re lucky to have such a great story to tell, so why not tell it?

 

At 28, Marie-Michele Le Moine embodies not only the organic way of life, but also the “slow living” philosophy. Whether it’s in Toronto or San Francisco, she is passionate about representing Patience Fruit & Co and promoting the values and lifestyle associated with it, as well as making its great products available to consumers all over the world.

 

Marie-Michele with Ben Mulroney, at the Grand Prix New Product Awards in Toronto in 2016. That evening, the Patience Fruit & Co brand was awarded the Snack of the Year Award for its “Whole & Juicy” dried cranberries.

Une filiale de Fruit d'or

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