Take care of the industry and the industry will take care of you.
Len Troup was born in Jordan Station, was baptized in Jordan Station, went to school in Jordan Station, farms in Jordan Station and he suggests he will probably be buried in Jordan Station. Len is the third of four children. Len attended Jordan Station Public School and graduated from Beamsville High School. After graduation Len came home to farm Lakelee Orchards. It is a family run business. Len’s brother Doug joined the farm when he bought out their mother. Len and Doug are the third generation on the farm, Len’s son Ron and Doug’s son Dean are the fourth. Lakelee was developed over many years. They bought 10 surrounding farms totaling 660 acres and in 1973 they became incorporated.
In 1963 Len married Judy. Judy was a competitive figure skater. After they were married Judy taught figure skating and began the Jordan Figure Skating Club. Len and Judy have four children: Ron, Tricia, Kim and Brad. They have 7 grandchildren. Some say you should keep your children close, Len and Judy took that to heart, all of their children live around them, in their own homes, on the farm.
Len was elected onto the Ontario Tender Fruit Marketing Board in 1975. He started off as a director until 1997. In 1997 he was elected the chair of the organization until he retired in 2012. Len was elected onto the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association as a director in 2003. There were some tough decisions to be made and Len stepped in to make some changes. He became chair from 2005-2006 and then remained as a director until 2011. Len is a firm believer in succession planning for organizations.
Len faced many challenges while being the chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Marketing Board. During his term he was challenged with the plum pox virus outbreak. He worked closely with the CFIA as this was an international problem that struck locally. Through research and persistence, they were able to save some of the peach trees. Len worked closely with researcher Wayne Roberts lobbying and educating the CFIA and government officials about the virus and what was needed to control it. In the end Len is proud to say that he was able to win a few battles against the CFIA by using researched based information to lobby and educate influential politicians.
The Greenbelt legislation was introduced in 2005. Len worked with others to try to negotiate and bring producer’s concerns to the table. Although hours and costly resources were used, the greenbelt was developed and is now under a 10 year review.
Len believes that the loss of the CanGrow processor in 2008 was a direct result of the free trade agreement. Len and several members of the board lobbied the government to try to save the processor stating the need to have a processing facility in the Greenbelted area. Unfortunately this was one battle that could not be won.
Throughout the years Len has worked with the Ontario Fruit Testing Association developing and propagating new disease resistant varieties of peaches and pears. He would take new unnamed varieties and grow them for evaluation. Some do not pass the grade and are forgotten; others such as the Sundowner Pear and the Harrowcrisp pass all of the tests and move onto the market.
Throughout his terms as director and chair for the Ontario Tender Fruit Marketing Board and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Len was busy fighting the fight for the industry. This took dedication, effort and hours. Because of his commitment to the industry he was not always available to work on the farm. Most of the work responsibility and management of the farm was given to family members. Ron, Len’s son now manages the farm. Doug and his son Dean take care of the packing, bookkeeping and farm work including all of the spraying. Judy for many years pruned and trained all of the new young trees. Len was comfortable leaving the farm because he always knew he had good people taking care of the day to day responsibilities of running a large operation.
Len is retired and enjoys hunting and fishing. He still holds a seat as a director for the Agriculture Adaptation Council. He has taken over the responsibility of pruning and training the young new trees on the farm. Len has left his mark on the tender fruit industry. He is proud of his accomplishments, appreciates the mentoring he received along the way and feel his contributions have made the industry a little more sustainable.