Talking to Urban Agriculture Pioneers Tereska Gesing and Shawn Manning

Listen to our conversation

I was lucky enough to interview Shawn and Tereska on Valentine’s Day last month. They were a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

We began with each of them introducing themselves and describing what they care about most when it comes to their jobs.

Shawn Manning’s Passion: Teaching

[00:01:04] I helped start Urban Seedling, which is a fantastic company that we started together with my cousin Trevor Manning. The things that I like most about my business, our business, are very simple.

[00:01:30] I love teaching people. So I guess that’s the thing that I like the best about her business is teaching. But more specifically, teaching people how to have a vegetable garden. Just teaching them that it’s okay to get your hands dirty and it’s okay to make mistakes, which is really what it’s all about.

[00:02:05] It’s about having successes and failures just like everything in life.

[00:02:11] And it’s a great way to learn to take life a little bit less seriously and just kind of go with the flow and it doesn’t always work, but you try your best. And you have fun doing it. I find that that is my motto for everything in life and that gardening is really what got me there. Which is kind of weird. But, that’s the truth. That’s kind of who I am. And doing that more specifically in schools with kids is something that is so fun to do. It’s tiring, but it’s really very rewarding and I love doing that.

Tereska Gesing’s Passion: Building Urban Agriculture Movements

[00:03:05] I am a co-owner of Urban Seedling with my partner here. We have a vegetable gardening company and our mission is to encourage Montrealers to grow food in the city, be that at their home, at schools and daycares, or in the workplace. We have a garden center at the Verdun greenhouses where we sell exclusively edible plants—and medicinal plants and pollinators—majoritarily edible plants. We give a lot of workshops and the educational portion is very important to our company.

My proudest thing or favourite thing about what we’re doing is the growth. When we started back in 2010, nobody was talking about urban agriculture. It was just like a tiny little niche nobody was talking about. It has been really fun to get in on the ground floor of what is now a movement that has taken on a lot of steam and it’s very exciting.

And so through my work as the owner of Urban Seedling, I’m able to be involved in all sorts of other great urban agriculture movements like Cultiver Montreal and there’s a great urban agriculture project coming on the rooftop of a big parking lot in Verdun called Camp Éthel. And of course our wonderful Grand Potager Urban Agriculture Centre at the Verdun greenhouses. So what really gets me out of bed in the morning is that kind of larger scale planning and being able to grow the idea and the practice of urban agriculture on a municipal level.

Among Co-founding Members of Grand Potager

[00:05:01] I should mention that because people listening to this podcast know me from my winter world, which is notable nonfiction, but in the summer I’m a full-bodied member of Grand Potager and the urban agriculture movement with these guys that’s why we know each other. We are founding members together.

[00:05:30] It all happened on that rainy day.

[00:05:35] Oh yes so that is how we know each other and we are all part of the same urban agriculture movement.

[00:05:45] But what’s really fascinating about the way your business runs is you guys have created an entrepreneurial force in this relatively new industry. You’re getting quite a name for yourself. Maybe we can talk about what happened with Shawn this week in terms of education. I think it’s a big scoop.

Sustainable Landscaper Education

[00:06:02] Yeah I guess I can talk about it.

[00:06:13] So this week, I was invited to take part in an evaluation of profession for the future profession of a horticulturalist specializing in sustainable landscaping. This was with the Ministry of Education.  I was part of a panel for a group of 13 other specialist horticulturalists that are in specific areas of sustainable landscaping and I was there representing the edible landscaping kind of urban agriculture.

[00:07:22] Between the 13 of us, we are essentially creating the curriculum to train the future generation of horticulturalists that want to then take the next step in their education.

[00:07:45] So it’s going to be offered as a specialization. After they graduate they’re DEC in ag in horticulture to become a specialist. As someone that is specializing in sustainable horticultural practice and so it was really really interesting. I got to meet some amazing people and learned a lot about a lot of different aspects of sustainable agriculture that I didn’t really know much about and I’m super excited to dive really deeper into a few of those areas and learn more about it and maybe incorporate some of those things into what we do at Urban Seedling because we always wanted…you know initially, our goal was to just to do urban agriculture and to teach people how to grow food. And as an entrepreneur, and wanting to be viable and not go bankrupt… by successful, that’s like a whole other ball game. We just want to survive until the next season.

Seasonal Business Challenging

You can only grow vegetables for so long in the season. You know. It’s a season within a season within a season that you can actually do work and make money and pay your bills and pay for your trucks and your employees and all your things.

And so we decided that it would be in our best interests to do a few more traditional services like landscaping. I have a background in that. My family are all entrepreneurs and all involved in different aspects of construction. And so I learned how to do a lot of that landscaping stuff when I was younger. and Trevor, our partner, that’s the aspect of our business that he has really helped to grow that side of it so that we can continue working and stay above board.

But that’s not what we initially intended it nor is it really part of what we want to be doing.

[00:10:24] No I think you’re trying to say is that we’re really excited to take our business into it an even more sustainable future and to be able to really do better in the world in all parts of the business so that our success as entrepreneurs the more success we have, the better that the world is in a little way.

[00:10:46] And to be fair the sustainable landscaping movement is growing and so is the kind of thing that people are getting a lot more informed about and that’s all well we’re doing more yeah.

[00:10:58] We are well-placed and we actually care about it, and we actually want to do it.

[00:11:08] You know it’s not like someone who is approaching a big huge company and saying oh can you do this like a sustainable thing that I’ve heard about or that I’ve read about and the company be like oh you know we really do that but I don’t know let’s see maybe we can do a little something like that for you whereas I would like to position ourselves as being the experts in those specific fields.

And that’s what will set us apart and that’s what you know we we’ve strive for.

Expanding Sustainable Landscaping Across the Island

[00:12:04] I really want to continue to be a big part of developing the industry across the Greater Montreal region. Urban Seedling, right now, I believe is considered a leader in the industry. I want to continue to develop the market and to really push hard on adding more and more and more people who are interested in just rethinking the way that they view their garden and that they view their yard.

I want it to become mainstream to look at your yard and say ‘this should be an edible oasis.’ There should be pollinator gardens, and there should be a huge vegetable garden that’s super productive and there should be fruit trees and there should be a berry hedge instead of cedars.

Ecological Yards

[00:13:11] And really also think about maintaining a yard in an ecological way and that the default should not be traditional gardening. It should not automatically equal using pesticides and herbicides and planting plants that are not meant to be in our climate and then trying to manage them with all sorts of chemicals. I don’t want that to be the default anymore.

I want to work on getting people excited about biodiversity. Get them excited about indigenous plants. Get them excited about growing food. That’s really where I see our strength as a company. And so I think that in collaborating with others…

In small niches like ours, I honestly don’t believe in competition. I don’t think it’s real. I think it’s a fiction.

We have such a small kind of corner of the gardening market, that the more people that are out there practicing urban agriculture and knocking on doors and talking about vegetable gardens and talking about biodiversity, the better it is for everybody.

[00:14:22] And so I think in terms of growing our business well I hope anyway that the work that I’m doing outside of Urban Seedling to really push the development of the market for everybody, a high tide raising all ships. That where I see the growth potential for our businesses is making the market itself bigger.

Living and Working Together

[00:14:46] Right. So and then now to go into the moving towards working together and how each one of you has different strengths and how but you still live together you raise a family together and you work together which many couples would think that would be a big challenge.

[00:15:06] I’d like to hear you and downtimes day talking to you every day is a blessing. Mostly I find it really easy.

[00:15:23] I don’t find it difficult at all.

[00:15:28] I only wish there was more time every day. Honestly that was the biggest challenge is the fact that we’re both so busy working and taking care of the kids and making allowances and doing this and the time they were so tired we don’t actually get to spend time together.

[00:15:47] We don’t get to spend as much time together.

Where am I supposed to be. We do everything together but it’s always like passing the torch where it was supposed to be ok.

[00:16:01] Okay where you lay all…

[00:16:05] I’m calling the .

We do it. We communicate. We work through everything. We support each other. We help each other.

I try my best to do all those things.

We jumped into this adventure together without a lot of forethought and you’re right that it could have been really disastrous and we didn’t really consider that before starting the business together.

Different Skill Sets

I think the thing that has made it really easy is that Shawn and I are very different in our skill set. And so it’s really obvious who’s going to do what. Like there’s no kind of ambiguity there. There is no ‘you should have done this, you should have done that…

I have strengths in administration in the office and in kind of more a broader strategic planning and Shawn is really really skilled at going out and meeting with clients and doing sales and being out there on the ground every day doing the work.

So yeah I would agree 100 percent that the biggest struggle was starting a family and a business at the same time. That was another lack of forethought. Having three kids, and a start-up not recommended.

[00:17:39] We’re also landlords we have tenants and yet, fortunately, they’re wonderful.

We just take it one day at a time. Cliché. Cliche all the cliches are true cliches because they’re true.

[00:18:03] Is there. Do you have any hints for other couples who are thinking about doing this kind of thing like if you were to do it over again which you almost like a marriage course which you do have let’s start a business or a business together. I mean how do you deal with finances. People have a hard time discussing that in their home life and you guys have a home life and a business life and a rental property.

[00:18:31] Division of labour.

[00:18:33] I don’t deal with finances and my receipts like receipts you know I should do a better job. This year it will be every day.

[00:18:52] Tereska will let me know when we need more money and I have another job so I will work more on my other job when I have to. I also manage a catering company and do some weddings and things like that so you know. But for the most part,

Making Sure Your Partner Feels Heard

As far as like advice I would say to just you know obviously just like listen to the person and know what they want to hear.

No!

Sometimes people when people complain about something it’s because they want to feel heard. Right.

So when they’re having a hard time. And that’s for everyone having a hard time too. And you might be bitchy and you might be you know annoyed and you might be not wanting to hear or deal with their stuff, but you just have to simply say “that sucks. I’m sorry that you feel that way’ and that’s it.

If you say like ‘well I’m having a shitty day too. Sorry I’m apologizing. I’m sorry. I’m Canadian. But sometimes you just need to you know to take a breath and listen and hear and say “that sucks” and that’s it. You don’t have to have the solution which is my weakness. Something I always try and come up with like oh you should do this or you should do that or why are you not doing this or why are you doing that. And this is how you’ll feel better.

That doesn’t help.

[00:20:49] It will. It will turn into a. What do you think a man already doing. Oh I mean that sucks.

[00:21:00] Thank you. That’s all I wanted to hear. Eventually that message gets through. Yes.

[00:21:07] I hope do it sometimes too but I don’t know. Yeah.

Don’t Take Business Disagreements Personally

[00:21:15] My advice. And again I think this is good advice across the board. It’s something that I’ve learned over the years in managing employees and being on committees and you know collaboration is that it’s just work. You can’t make professional things personal and you can take things personally and I think that just in our personality types Shawn and I just as a default don’t take that kind of stuff personally.

But I could see maybe a challenge for couples who are already taking personally with each other that bad.

[00:22:01] You know that being in business together just amplifies everything.

[00:22:05] So if you have a couple who already fight like we don’t really fight very often.

[00:22:13] And so I think if you’re already before your question was you know before starting a business together, what should people consider. And I would say”

  • Do we get along without fighting?
  • Are we able to separate professional things from personal?
  • Are we able to listen to each other?

If the answer to any of those things is no, then don’t start a business together.

Do you consider yourself a Canadian? If so, what does that mean to you?

Tereska

[00:22:56] So this time you get very interesting question. I’m actually really excited to hear what Shawn has to say to this.

[00:23:02] I am from Ontario and this is not a question in Ontario. Obviously you’re Canadian. This kind of underlying politics of Canadianism and language politics and all that are totally different from where I come from but I’ve been here for 20 years so I’m starting to understand I. So I absolutely do consider myself Canadian.

I am a first generation immigrant. My parents emigrated from Poland.

[00:00:04] Yes so I was born in Ontario. I’m I am the child of Polish immigrants. They met here so my family has been in Canada. You know my polish is terrible but also you know my grandparents came here with nothing.

And there you know I think this is common for a lot of immigrant families is that the goal is to become Canadian and being Canadian is a huge point of pride. And and I have always believed that.

I love this country and I think that it is the best place on earth to live.

You know we have really a lot going for us here in Canada.

So I definitely do consider myself Canadian and I think the most important thing for me when thinking about being Canadian is the freedom we have to disagree with each other.

And you know like if I think of other countries obviously that are oppressed or under dictatorship that’s an extreme example but even you know the United States everything’s super polarized or in Europe there’s a lot of kind of old world hangover notions about gender roles or other attitudes.

I just feel like here and, especially in Montreal, everyone is free to live their own life and colour it the way they want to colour it. And and we have a nice big and wide social safety net so that people like Shawn and I can go out on a limb and start a business and a family at the same time which I’m pretty sure we would not be able to do anywhere else.

Shawn

It’s not really something that I’ve ever thought about to be perfectly honest. It’s all I know. I consider myself to be Canadian. I’ve always been a happy and proud Canadian.

As far as what it is in particular, I just love where I live. I grew up in Montreal. I never even really left Montreal until I was. You know I haven’t really traveled around that much. I’ve been around I know I’ve traveled a bit. But everywhere I go, I miss Montreal. I lived in L.A. for a while. I didn’t like it.

I mean it was nice and warm that was great. You know the weather was great.

Like I can’t complain about the weather that

That guy at the depaneur, the guy will say oh boy it’s cold out. Boy oh boy.

OK Jimmy Oh yeah. OK. And that’s I love that and I love I love you know that it is the city that we’re in here is a total a little melting pot and there are so many little different communities and seeing and interacting and more and more just.

I don’t know.

I think that it’s it’s a beautiful beautiful place to live.

The great people here are very very kind. Except when we’re driving in which case we’re less kind, but I love the fact that I can honk my horn and shake my fist and someone else will be like yeah shake it. And that’s OK and we’ll park and we’ll say hi there and they’ll say hi nice day or beautiful.

And I love hockey and I love beer and there you go.

 

Continue reading

Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma changed how I think about food.

Until reading the now classic 2006 tome by Michael Pollan, I never noticed the extreme lack of diversity in the modern North American diet due to its evolution since World War II. Events have since conspired to show me the extent that corn, dairy and wheat join salt and sugar to form a significant part of a Canadian diet too. Often we think we are eating one thing and it turns out that we are actually eating something else.

Food Industrialization

The industrialization of our food system has separated us from natural systems while hurting our health, our planet and our soil. Despite that understanding, reversing the habit has been an ongoing struggle. As Pollan points out in his conclusion, everything in our culture encourages us to rely on the convenient, unemotional and often unrecognizable food-like products offered in bulk by giant industrial companies.

For countless generations eating was something that took place in the steadying context of a family and a culture, where the full consciousness of what was involved did not need to be rehearsed at every meal because it was stored away, like the good silver, in a set of rituals and habits, manners and recipes. I wonder if it isn’t because so much of that context has been lost that I felt the need, this one time, to start again from scratch.” (p 411)

Travel Across America

For Pollan, starting again from scratch meant travelling across America to discover the basic ingredients within four meals: a McDonald’ meal eaten in a fast car, a Whole Foods organic dinner, a Polyface Farm meal, and a foraged meal. Pollan takes readers along with him, detailing every element in each meal from start to finish. He brings us with him into industrial food operations, to small and large farms, and into the forest in search of mushrooms and big game to hunt.

In between the descriptions of places and people, Pollan carefully outlines every element within every meal. Often, many of these elements turn out to have the same source.

Corn Prevalent Everywhere

In his description of his McDonald’s meal, for instance, he described how three people chose 45 different products almost totally made of corn.

It would not be impossible to calculate exactly how much corn Judith, Isaac, and I consumed in our McDonald’s meal. I figure my 4-ounce burger, for instance, represents nearly 2 pounds of corn (based on a cow’s feed conversion rate of 7 pounds for every 1 pound of gain, half of which is edible meat). The nuggets are a little harder to translate into corn, since there’s no telling how much actual chicken goes into a nugget; but if 6 nuggets contain a quarter pound of meat, that would have taken a chicken half a pound of feed corn to grow. A 32-ounce soda contains 86 grams of high-fructose corn syrup (as does a double-thick shake), which can be refined from a third of a pound of corn; so our 3 drinks used another pound. Subtotal: 6 pounds of corn.” (p115)

Food Science No Longer Occurs

The Omnivore’s Dilemma also contains a great deal of information about how many societal norms and regulations have radically transformed when it comes to food. Often these changes were due to marketing by various members of the agricultural industry.

Back in the fifties, when the USDA routinely compared the nutritional quality of produce from region to region, it found striking differences: carrots grown in the deep soils of Michigan, for example, commonly had more vitamins than carrots grown in the thin, sandy soils of Florida,” wrote Pollan, on page 178. “Naturally this information discomfited the carrot growers of Florida, which probably explains why the USDA no longer conducts this sort of research. Nowadays U.S. agricultural policy, like the Declaration of Independence, is founded on the principle that all carrots are created equal, even though there’s good reason to believe this isn’t really true.”

Food Link to Health

In other places, Pollan speculates about the extent that changes to our food system might be creating problems with our health.

One of the most important yet unnoticed changes to the human diet in modern times has been in the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6, the other essential fatty acid in our food. Omega-6 is produced in the seeds of plants; omega-3 in the leaves. As the name indicates, both kinds of fat are essential, but problems arise when they fall out of balance. (In fact, there’s research to suggest that the ratio of these fats in our diet may be more important than the amounts.) Too high a radio of omega-6 to omega-3 can contribute to heart disease, probably because omega-6 helps blood clot, while omega-3 helps it flow. (Omega-6 is an inflammatory; omega-3 an anti-inflammatory.) As our diet—and the diet of the animals we eat—shifted from one based on green plants to one based on grain (from grass to corn), the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has gone from roughly one to one (in the diet of hunter-gatherers) to more than ten to one.” (p268)

Despite multiple examples of dense information, the overall impression a reader has of Omnivore’s Dilemma is an exploration of America through its food and communities. Pollan aptly outlines his deep concern about deep problems in the food system while demonstrating how caring individuals can change how things are done.

Pollan has nicely captured the hurtful and healing attributes of America’s food system. Omnivore’s Dilemma remains a treasure and a great source of hope.

Reading it may force you to change the way you eat, the way you shop and the way you see your local community as it did for me.

 

Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

By Michael Pollan

2006

ISBN 978-0-14-303858-0

The Omnivore's Dilemma Book Cover The Omnivore's Dilemma
Michael Pollan
Cooking
Penguin Press
2006
450

An ecological and anthropological study of eating offers insight into food consumption in the twenty-first century, explaining how an abundance of unlimited food varieties reveals the responsibilities of everyday consumers to protect their health and the environment. By the author of The Botany of Desire. 125,000 first printing.

Continue reading

A Design Challenge to Define the Future Hickson-Dupuis

An urban design competition brought volunteers together for the entire last weekend of February. Together, they imagined how a five-hectare former industrial space in Verdun can be redeveloped for housing, small business and community use.

We want to increase and consolidate our knowledge of the territory,” said Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau, who also sits on the executive committee. “By defining a vision with all stakeholders, we will promote innovation and encourage the best practices in planning and sustainable development.”

The industrial space in question sits east of the aquaduct, and west of Duquette Park between Hickson and Dupuis. It’s also next to the municipal works building and the junctions of highways 15 and 20. It used to house glass, tire, auto repair, and used car companies.

Design Process

Volunteers included people from four architectural firms  along with their interns. Local residents and non-profit leaders like Billy Walsh from SDC Wellington and Tania Gonzalez, from CRE-Montreal (Montreal’s regional environment council) also participated.

They spent Friday discussing the site in question. The teams walked around the territory considering what might be needed to make the noisy, busy space inhabitable.

Then the four teams began creating plans for the site. They aimed to present to the public on Sunday afternoon.

Commonalities

All four teams identified the need to use the site as a link between the aqueduct and the St. Lawrence waterfront to the south. They also included a daycare, grocery store and cafés in the future neighbourhood, which currently sits in a food dessert.

All four teams included different types of resident space, retail businesses, community centres, green space and bicycle lanes in their plans.

Each team identified the former Stewart Limited brick buildings as historic buildings to be saved.

Four Visions

Despite those commonalities, their plans for the space looked very different.

Two teams divided the space into distinct units, one with a common green space up the middle.

Another covered the space in modern residential towers with unusual designs, using street space, green roofs and alleys for greenery.

One team recommended slow grass roots development and emphasized specific elements to link the territory in a single design.

Competition viewers got to see how different themes drastically change potential site designs.

Thank you for your participation,” said Mayor Parenteau at the end of the contest. “Every team provided us with solid contributions to our planning process.”

The project appears on the cities “making Montreal” platform. For more information, visit the website. Be sure to look on the French version of the site for information about all 48 projects listed.

Continue reading

Can the Lachine East Consultation Restore Trust?

Hundreds of people spent Sunday afternoon on February 24 talking about the 50- hectare plus Lachine East Development at the Maison du Brasseur.

“Finally we have the developers, government and citizens all in the same room,” said Lachine Mayor Maja Vodanovic. “Now we can create the neighbourhood of our dreams together.”

Montreal’s public consultation office (OCPM) organized the open house and information session as the first part in a process that will continue through April 7. This is the first time that a borough and the city have asked for a public consultation prior to a private development plan submission.

Three Commissioners

Three commissioners will be in charge of a report due out next summer. Marie Leahey, a coordinator from the Régime de retraite des groupes communautaires et de femmes, leads the commission. She is joined by cultural manager Danielle Sauvage and Les Tourelles Milton Park cofounder Joshua Wolfe.

Hopes remain high for what might be built on the former industrial land over the next twenty years. Several of the organizations that want to be involved in the project staffed tables during the open house.

Imagine Lachine East

One of them contained people from a new non-profit association called Imagine Lachine-Est, which wants to ensure that the new Lachine East development becomes an eco-district. More than a hundred citizens have joined so far. UQAM urbanism professor Jean-Francois Lefebvre serves as their president.

“I started working with the group as part of an internship, but I’ve been volunteering with them ever since because I really believe in this project,” said Imagine Lachine-Est coordinator Charles Grenier. “Eco-districts are the hope for the future.”

Grenier handed out pamphlets inviting visitors to the group’s Lachine-East summit. Organizers have added a series of talks in English to make sure that everyone who wants to learn about eco-districts can do so. The summit takes place on Saturday March 9, from 9:15 until 5 at the Guy-Descary culturel complexe, 2901 boul. Saint-Joseph. For more information, visit their website.

 

Revitalisation Saint-Pierre

At another table were Inass El Adnany and Vincent Eggen from Revitalisation Saint-Pierre. They asked visitors to complete a survey about their vision for a bicycle path to link Lachine and Saint-Pierre through the former industrial area.

Villa Nova

Yves Comeau from Villa Nova stood in front of his table to talk to everyone passing by. He said that the company looks forward to continuing to develop its land, despite the clean-up costs, which turned out to be much higher than they once anticipated.

We carted truckloads of contaminated soil from the property,” said Comeau. “There’s going to be a lot of clean-up necessary on the rest of the land as well.”

Tensions between the government and Villa Nova have eased since tests discovered that the land had not been properly decontaminated despite receiving certification from the Quebec Environment Ministry. The borough itself tested the land after Vodanovic raised concerns. City, borough and company discussions got so heated that the company went into bankruptcy protection while the clean-up took place.

During that same period, co-owner Paulo Catania faced fraud charges. They were dropped last May. A month later, Catania made more positive headlines with his announcement that half of the Villa Nova units on the Jenkins property sold within six hours of coming onto the market.

Comeau said the company remains confident they’ll be able to duplicate that success on the rest of their property.

Questions to OCPM

During the information session that followed the open house, residents expressed concern and hope. One resident asked how the borough could protect local heritage if they couldn’t stop the recent Dominion Bridge demolition. How does the city justify building 4,000 units in a sector that has few transportation options? How much community and social housing will be built? What about schools, day cares and grocery stores?

The next sessions during the OCPM consultation may answer some of those questions. Anyone interested can sign up for small group design workshops at two different libraries.

You can also present a written or verbal submission to the commission. Written submissions are due in March. Hearings will take place during the first week of April. To register, go to the website.

Note: This article appeared on pages 1 and 11 of the February 27 issue of the West Island Edition of the Suburban.

Continue reading

Verdun Business Community Honours National Women’s Day

More than a hundred women and a few men celebrated International Women’s Day a week early at Quai 5160 in Verdun.

The event, which was organized by volunteers with the Réseau Affaires Verdun (RAV)  featured well-being, with presenters spending ten minutes inspiring people to create better lives.

Sure you can enjoy hamburgers and fries every day if you want,” said nutritionist Isabelle Huot. “But you may find yourself struggling to move.”

Jean Airoldi, the only male presenter, spoke about fashion. Thankfully, he didn’t point out faux pas in the wardrobe of participants like me.

Anne Joyal, from Strom spa, relationship coach Geneviève Desautels and workplace calm and design specialists Danielle Gagnon and Mélanie Boivin gave us all ways to create more peace in our lives. Josée Leger spoke about the pleasures of wine.

The highlight of the evening took place right at the end, when Fanny Gauthier from Ateliers & Saveurs, created three different cocktails for participants to try using Quebec wines from Les Vignes des Bacchantes. Each of them featured a different herb. What a great experience drinking the flavours of rosemary and basil.

Verdun Business Personalities of the Month

RAV recognized Strom Spa co-founder Guillaume Lemoine as their business personality of the month for January 2019. Maxime Bissonnette from Système Intégration Global Inc. (SIG) won for February 2019. For more information, visit the RAV website.

Four Southwest Mayors Speak

The next event to connect the business community takes place on Tuesday, March 19 at 11:30 a.m. at Sofie Reception, 420 Avenue Lafleur. That’s when the Grand Sud-Ouest 5.0 will hold a panel discussion featuring the mayors from Lachine, LaSalle, Verdun and the Southwest boroughs. Manon Barbe, Benoit Dorais, Jean-François Parenteau and Maja Vodanovic will speak about their visions for the future. Tickets cost $95 or $45 for students. For more information and tickets, visit the Grand Sud-Ouest 5 website.

Continue reading
1 2 3 4 162
>