Recipient: Popsilos Inc.
Total funding allocated: $100,000
If you find yourself in the United Counties of Prescott-Russell with a few hours to spare, allow us to suggest a road trip. The drive will fill your senses with the richness of an area that not only attracts bird-watchers, fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. You will also see farms that have been in families for generations. The silos on these farms captured the imagination of Jen Larocque and Mat Mault, envisioning the transformation of these structures into 20 by 60 foot urban murals depicting the essence of this rural, mainly Francophone and proudly Canadian community. This touristic circuit is Popsilos.
Popsilos began in 2017 as part of the Canada 150 celebrations. Inspired by Kelburn Castle in Scotland that has a full facade covered in graffiti art, Popsilos turned the spotlight on Prescott-Russell’s agricultural heritage. Five farms loaned their silos to Popsilos who created stunning, larger-than-life murals, each based on a particular theme: unity, the environment, diversity, youth and vulnerability. The self-directed Popsilos circuit immersed visitors in an outdoor, sensorial art gallery combined with agri-food tourism, with local producers’ and artisans’ shops open along the way.
After the first season, the numbers started to come in: more than 6,000 circuit visitors; 54,000 unique visitors to the website; 12 cultural workshops; 14 partners; a 50 percent increase in sales from one producer and the opportunity to quadruple sales in others. Two additional culinary tourism locations – Beau’s All-Natural Brewing and the St-Albert Cheese Co-op – joined the circuit as food and beverage stops where Popsilos curated additional 8 by 8 foot murals to represent the partnerships. It was clear that the more stops along the circuit, the greater the economic impact.
When the Canadian Experience Fund (CEF) was introduced in 2019, Popsilos saw an opportunity to expand not only the number of silos on the circuit, but also the connections between urban art, rural agriculture and the awareness of Franco-Ontarian culture. The $100,000-CEF contribution was used to produce two new silos in Casselman and Alfred.
“Popsilos is grateful for the Canadian Experiences Fund contribution that has allowed artistic, agricultural and traditional heritages to shine in the rural region of Prescott-Russell. People from all walks of life and communities can gain an appreciation for urban art and rural life, with benefits reaching local producers and artisans through increased visibility and business. By supporting Popsilos, the government is monumentalizing an important part of Canadian culture,” says Jennifer Larocque, Creator and Director of Popsilos, Inc.
While the economic growth in this agricultural community resulting from the Popsilos circuit is significant, the synergies from the unexpected union of art and agriculture add to the visceral experience that will not be forgotten quickly. “Through meaningful exchanges between farmers and artists, the worlds of agriculture and art collide to create memorable experiences captured in monumental pieces of art that also reveal a truth: we are more alike than we know. We work together to create powerful messages that celebrate agriculture and give way to artistic interpretations. It’s a creative way to bring to life themes that speak not only to the rural farming community, but to all.”