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Valerie Grenier balances family with her produce career

There are no tomatoes in Valerie Grenier's home garden.

That is not because the 29-year-old does not like them; quite the contrary, she has an unlimited supply of them at her disposal at her job.

Ms. Grenier is the sales and marketing director at Les Serres du St.-Laurent, recognized throughout Quebec by its "Savoura" label and renowned for its premium greenhouse-grown tomatoes.

She was promoted in May to her current position at Savoura after spending seven years as its principal accounts manager, a position she took after finishing her degree in food sciences at Laval University in January 2001.

Though she told The Produce News that she has "more than enough things to keep busy" as she is now responsible for sales, packaging, transportation, warehousing and the food-safety program at the firm, which is one of the larger greenhouse tomato growers in the province, she still makes it a point to spend time with family and friends, including her husband, Frederic Poulin, and her son, Louis Felix, who just recently turned one.

Ms. Grenier said that her family, both immediate and extended, likes to spend a lot of time together. "I am very close to my husband and my family. We feel more like friends because we see each other so often," she said, adding that her parents and her brother and sister live nearby.

She said that her family likes to visit her parents' home in the Charlevoix region of the province. It is located near a lake, and they like to swim, fish and take boat rides when they visit.

Ms. Grenier said that swimming is a very important part of her family's life, as she has had a pool at her home since she was a little girl.

"It is crucial to have," she said, noting that Quebec's long and cold winters make it even more important to take advantage of the summer weather. She and her son go swimming, play at the playground and romp with Oliver, the family's beagle and her son's "best friend."

They also like to go to a marina near their house and will often have a picnic and watch the boats.

The family moved to a new house a year-and-a-half ago, and Ms. Grenier likes to spend her free time decorating it, both inside and out. She has quite the green thumb and enjoys gardening. "I love flowers," she said.

In addition to flowers, she is currently growing herbs, cucumbers, broccoli, radishes, strawberries and beans.

"I'm always trying something new," she said, adding that the beans were a new item in her garden this year.

Ms. Grenier also enjoys golfing, a sport she has been playing since she was 13. When she first started, she played every day during the summer in a junior program at a local country club. "It was my main hobby as a teenager," she said, noting that she played until she was 18 and then continued as an adult member, playing about 10 times a summer.

Though her family and professional obligations do not allow her to play as much any more, she does try to play when time permits.

She may not have won any tournaments while she was a teenager, but she did win something even more important: the heart of Mr. Poulin, whom she met at the junior program when she was 15.

"We started dating at 15 and we were high school sweethearts," she said proudly. The couple continued dating until college, when they took a break but stayed friends. They got back together soon afterwards, and have been inseparable ever since.

This is par for the course for the talented and hardworking Ms. Grenier.