By Elizabeth Gay
Jennifer Larocque’s self-guided tour of Prescott-Russell’s seven farm silos, transformed into painted masterpieces, has continued to grow and attract visitors, despite COVID-19 shutdowns. Before opening and allowing visitors to walk up to the silos as of July, Larocque coordinated the completion of two new murals – one at the Drouin farm, on route 400, near Casselman and the other on the Lalande Farm, a maple syrup operation on Caledonia Springs Road, near Alfred.
The project, called Popsilos, began in 2017 when Larocque, co-founder of Activar, a boutique consulting and project management firm, received a $150,000 government grant as part the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation. She continues to receive annual federal funding for the coordination of the not-for-profit project. Grants cover marketing expenses, supplies, rental equipment, the artist’s living costs for the four weeks of production and fees for the Montreal-based company Larocque works with to coordinate the work of mural artists. The first seven silo paintings average 60 to 65 ft. in height and cost about $40,000 each.
The Popsilos serve a dual purpose. Most of the farms with the painted silos sell farmgate products and benefit from tourism. Drouin Farm owner Yves Drouin said since his mural appeared earlier this year, he’s had more visitors for the wide range of activities his farm offers including a sugar shack and a wedding venue. He hopes as word and interest spread, the observed increase will prove to be “just the beginning.”