Sam and Grace Kang
Local Food Heroes 2006
Sam Kang immigrated to Canada in 1968 and worked as a train traffic controller for Canadian National Railway for fifteen years. During that time, he and his brother decided to buy some farmland, with the intent to grow vegetables. And so the Kangs settled on 35-acres in the Holland Marsh in Bradford. At first they experienced difficulty making an income, but their luck changed in 1983 when they began to make kimchi—a pickled food made from Korean cabbage and radish. Kang and his wife, Grace, were able to quit their jobs in 1984 to dedicate themselves full-time to their farm. Their business took off with the intense rise in popularity of kimichi in the Toronto Chinese community. They have now set up a processing plant on the farm and employ a staff of five part-time workers.
Unique Food System Challenge
Canada’s immigration system caters to the labour needs of a ‘knowledge-based’ economy—a majority of newcomers settle in large urban centres and are encouraged to find a job in the city. As such, they are disconnected from rural Ontario where the potential to make a livelihood in the agricultural industry has been overlooked. Ontario’s abundant supply of farmland has the capacity to offer immigrants ample entrepreneurial opportunities. Also, with growing immigrant communities across the GTA there is a greater need for more diversified farming and food processing to satisfy a variety of culinary preferences.
Unique Food System Solution
The Kangs found their own way in farming, but Mr. Kang believes that a lot of newcomers would greatly benefit from some government incentives to join the agriculture industry. The Kangs have prospered from discovering their niche market. Kang’s company, Kimchi Canada Farm, now produces 40 tonnes of kimchi annually in 18 different varieties. Chinese buyers make up half their market, sold through a wholesaler to over 200 Chinese stores and buffet restaurants across the GTA. Given the increase in immigrant communities and corresponding demand, they have only more room to grow.