How one Ontario tobacco farmer’s shift to kale sprouted a booming business
From the Financial Post
What happens to farmers when consumer tastes shift? Like any other entrepreneur, they change business models, says Jim Todd, a transition crop specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Farmers are no different than any other entrepreneur. They are well aware of what will sell and where and they are ready to change their business model to make the most of new markets.”
That’s exactly what happened in Ontario’s Northumberland County. Husband and wife entrepreneurs Draupadi and Adrian Quinn are adding kale to the list of nutrient-filled crops taking over the area. Armed with Adrian’s background in marketing and Draupadi’s health conscious recipe for kale chips, the couple converted 10 acres of former tobacco fields into kale production in 2009.
In November 2014, their farm, Kayley’s Acres, which grows organic kale and produces kale chips onsite, earned a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. Since then, they’ve launched their second brand of kale chips — Kaley’s Kale Chips — targeting the mainstream consumer market. They’ve also moved into a bigger facility and installed the largest kale dryer in the world, allowing them to speed up production to meet growing demand both here in Canada, where the chips are available in 1,000 stores across the country, and more recently, the United States.