A farming family from the Gardenton area has won Tourism Manitoba’s Sustainable Tourism award.  

Guy and Leah Bouchard say, farming has been in their family for generations. Green Pastures is a 2nd-generation 160-acre family farm on the banks of the Roseau River, where they raise turkeys, sheep and plant crops. The couple is intentional about being committed to sustainability and being good stewards of the environment.  

In 2023, the Bouchard’s decided to create a farming experience to keep the family busy during their off-season. So, they started “Farm, Fibre, Food & Friends” last fall, where visitors are invited to slow down, connect, create and enjoy a simpler life. They ask that guests come and stay for the entire day in order to “fully immerse themselves in time-honored traditions, create with their hands and sync with the rhythms of a simpler time.” 

The experience is eco-friendly, waste free, and uses local ingredients and supplies, produced on their farm. It is because of those reasons the Bouchard’s say Green Pastures was nominated.

Leah, wife and mother says, being nominated was a surprise.

“We didn't know we had been nominated until we were told we were finalists. We were super surprised. We were just honored and kind of humbled. We weren't expecting to win. And yeah, it was. It was a good surprise.”

Guy and Leah Bouchard at Tourism Manitoba Awards evening (Photo submitted)Guy and Leah Bouchard at Tourism Manitoba Awards evening (Photo submitted)

And now, having won the award, Leah tells us what this means to them.

“Well, I think it's validation that we're on the right track. It gives us confidence that we have developed a great experience, and I think it shows us that it is needed in our world right now, and that's what we were sensing. But it's great to get that outside validation that, yeah, we're on the right track.”

She says things won’t change much around their farm or the way they host their guests.

"We've always imagined that this tourism experience was going to be quite exclusive and small scale and it's something that kind of fits in the off season and works with the rhythm of our farm. So yeah, I think we're going to keep offering it that way, small scale in the off-season, and really exclusively. But yeah, it's just good to get this validation that we're on the right track. So, I think we'll just continue on.”

Leah Bouchard (centre) chats with guests during "Farm, Fibre, Food & Friends" experience (Photo Credit: Green Pastures website)Leah Bouchard (centre) chats with guests during "Farm, Fibre, Food & Friends" experience (Photo Credit: Green Pastures website)

Bouchard says they’ve had many positive comments from guests to their farm day experience.

"I think everybody who has come, has had a really great day. It's really geared towards people who want to connect to the land and connect to where their food and fiber are coming from, and I think that's really what they've taken home. It’s that feeling of like, wow, I feel so much more connected to where stuff comes from, and so, that's been really rewarding for us to see.”

Bouchard explains the Green Pastures Sustainable Farming experience.

“It's not a mass-produced experience. It's very, very small scale and very intimate and we really delve into a lot of stuff, and they (guests) go home with a pretty cool handmade wool item as well. We want them to be there for the whole process. We want our guests to slow down. Slow down with slow food, slow crafting and just the slow kind of attitude towards life.”

Bouchard notes for people who want to join them for their upcoming farming experience, there is still some room left for their Mother’s Day event on May 11 and the last one this season is on May 20.

"People can register on our website up until May 1st. I'm thinking that's when we're going to close it and it is going to be kept really small. So, if somebody wants to get in on it, they should book ASAP.”

Green Pastures Mother's Day promo

Green Pastures was one of 4 Manitoba businesses nominated in the Sustainable Tourism category.  Travel Manitoba recognized the outstanding contributions of industry professionals in their annual Tourism Awards last week in Winnipeg. 

The Sustainable Tourism award is presented to an organization, tourism business, facility, event or attraction that demonstrates a commitment to economic, social and environmental sustainability and works to mitigate any harmful impact in these areas. The nominee meets the needs of visitors now, while actively protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future.  

Leah and Guy Bouchard have transformed their family’s sustainable farm lifestyle to a hands-on, immersive experience for visitors to fill in slower periods on the farm while staying true to their values. The Bouchards created the Farm, Fibre, Food & Friends tourism experience to help visitors connect, create, and enjoy a simpler life. 

Visitors to Green Pastures Farm are immersed in traditions of caring for the sheep that generate wool while learning about innovative agriculture practices that have withstood the test of time to foster a strong bond with the land. Visitors learn about producing food harvested from the fields, pastures and forests while gaining a deep understanding of sustainable living through a waste-free and eco-friendly experience. (from Travel Manitoba website) 

Another local business won Tourism Manitoba's Small Business of the Year award. Masagana Flower Farm & Studio, Ste. Anne.