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Lapide Family Generations

Behind every small business, is a family

Sowing the Seeds: The Beginning

Like many young immigrants in the early 1900s, Girolamo (John) Lapide came to America to start a new life. By the 1930s he had a young family and was struggling to make ends meet working as a launderer. Looking to try something new, he partnered up with his brother-in-law, Joseph Fumusa, and opened a produce stand, called F & L Produce, in Brooklyn. When Wallabout Market shut down in 1941, it relocated inland to Canarsie and became the Brooklyn Terminal Market. John’s teenage son, Lawrence (Larry), saw the potential in moving into this new market and having a more permanent selling space. After some convincing, John & Joe decided to take a chance and expand their stand by acquiring vendor space in the newly constructed market.

Germination: Growing a Thriving Business

By the late 1960s, Larry (The Big L) was running Lawrence J. Lapide, Inc., the business that would later become what is currently Brooklyn Plantology. The business was doing well and had broadened its product range to include plants, seasonal goods & holiday decor. With his father and uncle looking to slow down and possibly retire, it was time to recruit the next generation. Larry’s sons, John & Patrick, started working alongside their father as teens. While they each went off to college after graduating, they both quickly found their way back to Brooklyn and the family business.  For nearly 30 years Larry, John & Patrick worked together in the Brooklyn location, eventually joined by Patsy & Toni (their mother & sister) making it a true family affair. Over the years the product categories continued to grow, new partnerships were formed and the business had become a community staple. By then the produce aspect of the business had been narrowed to one product, watermelon. Larry had partnered with a watermelon farmer in South Carolina and traveled south in the summers to source the freshest fruit.  

Transplanting: Establishing Dragonfly Farms

When Larry passed away in 1997, the family felt a renewed passion to honor their father by continuing to grow the family legacy. After searching for the right property, in 2004 they found the perfect fit in Hamilton, NJ. A refrigerated warehouse was built on the property to serve as a distribution center for the watermelon business, now Melon 1. After some renovations and improvements to the existing garden center, Dragonfly Farms opened for business. Patrick moved to New Jersey to focus on the new property, while John stayed in New York, however, both brothers remained actively involved in both locations.  Dragonfly quickly became a community favorite; a hidden gem that new customers were thrilled to discover. Pat took pride in creating unconventional displays that were fantastical, funky, playful, and sometimes just plain bizarre. This unique merchandising style drew interest and encouraged customers to come in frequently to see the most current showcase. Patrick tragically passed earlier this year, but his memory lives on in the businesses, relationships,  and community he built.

Spring Blooms: Embracing New Growth

As Dragonfly comes into its 20th year in 2024, the celebration is bittersweet. While still mourning the loss of Patrick, the spring season required new hands on deck. Enter John’s daughters, Patty & Marian. Both women have had successful careers in corporate retail, marketing  & the non-profit sector and bring a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge with them. Along with Patty & Marian, Antonia James, part of the Lapide family’s “adopted” relatives, will continue managing the store. Antonia has worked for the Lapide family for nearly 30 years, was Patrick's right hand at Dragonfly, and is beloved by the local community. Antonia is a familiar face to many locals and rounds out Dragonfly's event capabilities with her event-planning business, K's Event Decorations & Rentals, which she runs out of the location. This chapter of Dragonfly Farms is still unfolding in real time, but the excitement for what the future brings is shared by the whole team.  

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