Maison Boire, one of the greenest restaurants in Canada

Granby’s Maison Boire is now one of the first restaurants in the country to obtain the prestigious LEAF Level 3 certification, confirming the best environmental practices.
The LEAF certification program is offered to food service establishments, cafeterias, hotel schools and food service providers across Canada who wish to reduce their environmental footprint as part of their activities. More than a hundred stores have completed a process at one or the other level of performance since the launch of the initiative in 2009.

For the owner Brian Proulx, the recent certification is the culmination of hard work since the restaurant opened in 2017. “Two years of work, hundreds of hours of reading and learning” he calculates.

A “beautiful recognition” that will probably open some doors and opportunities for the company, but especially “a pat on the back” that confirms the ecological awareness of its artisans. “I had heard about certification while I was at university, and since I have plans to open my restaurant, I know I wanted to go in that direction. It was the first thing I had in mind, “he says.

For the entrepreneur, there is no question of polluting to start a business, adds Mr. Proulx. “It’s possible to be profitable while being green and limit your carbon footprint,” he says.

Investments that are worth it

It was also easier to integrate good practices from the start, even if it meant paying more.

Very expensive investments in time and money that are worth the candle in the eyes of the businessman. “To be certified level 3, we were evaluated on 600 different points,” explains Proulx. They look at our factors, the distance to which our producers are located, the equipment, the materials and the energy we use every day, how is the building done … ”

“Low-energy systems and smart systems are the most efficient, but they are more expensive,” he says. A normal food hood costs around $ 2,000 to $ 3,000. The one we have, which is smart, we are talking about [an acquisition cost] of $ 45,000. To be green, it takes a lot of willpower and motivation, but it’s worth it. ”

Complying with the very strict criteria imposed by certification goes far beyond having a kitchen garden on one’s roof.

“For example, you have to source from suppliers who offer local, fresh and organic products that are some distance away,” says Proulx. It was quite a challenge, especially in catering, we often need much larger quantities than a small farm can offer us. So we have to have several suppliers and we run our milk run to get our products. ”

On board an electric vehicle of course!

On the Leaf Me website, there is a list of certified establishments. In addition to the Maison Boire, the restaurant Chic Alors! is the only facility that has achieved Level 3 certification. Elsewhere in the country, only three other restaurants have achieved this recognition.

Ten years to self-

sustain Level 3 LEAF certification is just the beginning of a much larger project for Mr. Proulx, who wants to see his business become self-sustaining within a 10-year horizon.

A goal that is certainly ambitious, but achievable by the 2027 deadline. “We have already accomplished a lot in two years at the restaurant, and people thought we would not be able to do it,” he says.

Already, the trade has no container for its waste. Paper and cardboard are recycled and processed on site to make homemade paper. Food is used as much as possible to limit waste. The ceramic tableware is made on the spot. The ashes of the fire on wood used for cooking are reused in the manufacture of laundry soap.

And that’s just the beginning. “Next year, we would like to have our forge to make our own utensils. We would also like to make our own flour with a mill, says Mr. Proulx. It’s simple: if we can not do something ourselves, we’ll do it! ”

The building that houses the Maison Boire will therefore evolve over these adaptations, which will eventually lead to other vocations. “We will develop a craft workshop where there will be forging,” projects Mr. Proulx, who also caresses the dream of acquiring another building to make a small ecological hotel.

The restaurant menu will also evolve to the rhythm of the projects. “To become 100% self-sufficient, it could be that the institution borrows a vegetarian tangent, warns Brian Proulx. No way to have a beef farm next door! ”

This ambition represents for the owner a kind of homecoming. “Do things the way they used to, live more simply,” he explains. 200 years ago, when we went out, people knew the different plants and their properties. Today, it is difficult to distinguish two kinds of trees. I would like to change that. ”

Brian Proulx does not deny that his choices as a contractor have an impact on his customers’ bills. He believes, however, that those who choose to share a meal in his establishment appreciate the attention paid to the restaurant’s ecological footprint.

And in the end, he adds, everything is relative. “I often hear that it’s expensive to eat at Maison Boire,” he says. But if you look at it in an ecological way, it’s cheaper to have a meal here than to go to McDonald’s because you have a smaller footprint. And by far! ”

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