Our family has been farming in Ontario since the mid 1880’s. Edward French immigrated to Canada from England in 1881. He rented ten acres of land in Etobicoke and began market gardening in 1887. In 1894, Edward purchased fourteen acres in the same area and grew lettuce for local merchants. By 1916, Edward’s son William joined the family business, which had grown to be a 30-acre farm, including three greenhouses, two rhubarb-forcing sheds, and fourteen acres of fruit orchards.
William’s son Clarence joined the family business in the late 1940’s. After his father’s death in 1950, Clarence moved the farming operation to the Huttonville area west of Brampton. In 1963, he incorporated the farm as Lennox Farm Ltd., a name he chose in memory of his great grandmother. Clarence was a founding member of the Ontario Winter Rhubarb Growers’ Association. He also operated a successful Farm Market and Pick Your Own operation, with his son Bill, until his retirement in 1988.
In 1988, Bill and his wife Diane French purchased 300 acres in beautiful Melancthon, Ontario. Lennox Farm (1988) Ltd. began to grow new crops such as potatoes and broccoli, while continuing to grow the traditional rhubarb crop. At the peak, our family processed over one million pounds a year of rhubarb for bakeries.
Currently, Bill’s son Brian and his wife Jeannette and their family live on the farmstead. Our family business has grown to farm approximately 500 acres. Our farm is the lone survivor in the forced rhubarb industry in Ontario, currently growing over 10 000 square feet of winter rhubarb. While the processing business has scaled back, we have grown the wholesale fresh market rhubarb to be one of the largest in North America. Looking to reduce waste and find new avenues for our rhubarb, we now juice rhubarb to supply wineries, craft breweries, and cider houses.
Today, our family continues to grow an array of fruit and vegetable crops as well as herbs and flowers in our forcing sheds, greenhouses, and fields. We operate 11 months of the year, supplying healthy, fresh, and local produce to retailers and consumers in Ontario. From May through October we run a bustling on-farm market and have recently opened an online store. We seasonally preserve over 7 000 jars of jams, pickles, relishes, and syrups. We enjoy spending time together in the kitchen to create new products using our produce (e.g., pesto, granola, rhubarb juice).