Laprise, Jean Marie and Lucille

Inducted: November 13, 2012

Their success has been shared generously with the local community.

Jean Marie Laprise was born on June 21st, 1954 in Chatham to Treffle Laprise and Caroline Roy.  He married Lucille Benoit on April 19th, 1974 in Pain Court.  They have four children: Joel, Chantal, Julie and Melanie, and they have seven grandchildren.

Jean-Marie graduated from High School in Pain Court in 1972 and Ridgetown College of Agriculture and Technology in 1974.

A hardworking and innovative couple who live and work closely together, it is difficult to separate Jean Marie and Lucille's achievements.

Laprise Farms owned by Jean Marie and Lucille is a very diversified Agri-business company and include vegetable production and grain crops, greenhouse transplants production, hydroponic vegetable production and vegetable preparation for both the food processing and fresh market industries.  Their son, daughters and son-in-law are also involved in the company.

In 2003, Jean Marie started KenVeg, primarily a vegetable preparation, packing and cold storage facility.

Lucille and Jean Marie owned and operated a greenhouse vegetable transplant company called Labradel Plants Inc. which was set up in 1990 and is now passed on to the next generation.  With an additional greenhouse at Laprise Farms, they produce 80 to 100 million vegetable plug transplants each year.  This has become one of the largest vegetable transplant operations of its kind in Canada.  Plants are shipped to locations in Ontario, Quebec and the US.  It is the largest supplier of tomato and pepper plants to the Ontario Food Processing Industry.

A Kenex pioneer in the industrial hemp industry in 1996 with research and development and became the first commercial hemp operation in Canada processing grain and fiber.  Food grade products were made and sold as well as horse bedding and fiber for the automotive industry.

Beginning in 1992 and by 1998, Laprise Farms Ltd. had become the largest brussel sprouts producer in Canada.  Over the years, they have also grown: seed corn, popcorn, tomatoes, green peas, carrots, snap beans, cucumbers, commercial corn, industrial hemp, sugar beets, sunflowers, sweet corn, red beets, broccoli and wheat.

As Chairperson of La Caisse Populaire de Pain Court from 1980-82, Jean Marie, along with other directors was responsible for credit union policies, human resources, finances and administration.

As a director and on the executive of District 1 for the Ontario Vegetable Growers Marketing Board 1982-94, he assisted in the negotiation of contract terms, conditions and prices with the Ontario Food Processors.

As Chair of Ontario Seedling Growers Marketing Board 1994-2005, Jean Marie negotiated contract terms and conditions with Ontario Tomato Processors on behalf of the Ontario Greenhouse Transplant Industry.

­Awards:

 Entrepreneur of the Year in 1995 by the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce for work done in the development of the brussel sprouts harvesting and greenhouse vegetable transplant industries.

In 2005, Laprise Farms Ltd. was recipient of the 'Energy Conservation Award' from the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation in the construction of a freezer building at its KenVeg facility.

Jean Marie and Laprise Farms Ltd. were honoured by the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce as Innovator of the Year Award in 2007 for recent advances and innovation in various aspects of agriculture.

Personal Objectives:

To teach children good business and work ethics; to invest in the community to create opportunities for employment and growth; to continue to be a reputable supplier for vegetables, grain, and seed corn to local processing industry; and to make Chatham-Kent a better place to live and do business.

Lucille Laprise was born on April 22nd, 1955 to Wilfred Benoit and Beulah Griffore of Grande Pointe, Ontario.

She was raised on a farm, and from a young age she helped with the raising of animals, hoeing and filling corn cribs.   As a teenager, Lucille began to cultivate tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers giving her the experience she would need later.

She attended Pain Court High School.

After marriage, Lucille became more involved with the business aspect of farm business.  She did book work, looked after payroll, staff hiring and management, accounts receivable and payable. 

She later was involved in helping to manage a seed corn de-tasseling crew for the Laprise farming operation.  Lucille played a major role in the success of Laprise Farms Ltd. as well as the Laprise greenhouse transplant operation, which are both major suppliers to the fresh market and processing industry in Ontario.

Over the years, Lucille has been instrumental in staff recruiting and scheduling for the brussel sprout operation which employs approximately 100 staff annually.

In the community, Lucille has been an active member in her church and a member of the Mitchell's Bay Area Association.  She has volunteered at her children's school and served as PTA President and continues to assist with the Healthy Snack Program at school which is managed by her daughter, Julie.

Lucille's personal objectives are to continue to teach good work ethics and life skills to her children and grandchildren.  She also encourages them to give back to the community in which they live, and to help the less fortunate.

Jean Marie and Lucille are very generous and involved in their community.   They were lead donors in Bushels of Hope 2009.  They have employed 25 full time staff over 30 years.  During seasonal peaks up to 100 employees work in various divisions.  Over 40 years, Laprise Farms Ltd. have hired over 1,000 people.

Other involvements are Real Estate and Mortgage Investments, Corporations, Trucking, Consulting, Custom vegetable spraying, and Jean Marie has been a guest speaker in Canada and the US.  In the community, the Laprises support over 25 charitable organizations, health organizations, schools and community projects annually.

They also supported construction of the new YMCA.   They donate cash, fresh produce and canned goods year round for Outreach for Hunger.  In 2015, they were major donors for the Chatham-Kent Hospice.

They financially supported the Mitchell's Bay Association to improve the area including nature trails.  In 2013, Jean Marie and Lucille designed and built on their land, a new 1.2 kilometre lakeshore nature trail with park benches, a board walk into the lake, and interpretive signs on their property along Lake St. Clair to provide the public with an opportunity to enjoy the diverse wild life and natural vegetation in the area.  This was the first partnership with Chatham-Kent on this type of project.

Jean Marie and Lucille are Host Family for the 2018 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo, providing farmland required for the Tented City, RV Park, Tractor Park and the majority of the plowing land.  Jean Marie is also Chair for Land Co-ordination responsible for 9 sub-committees, including Ag Education.