Pakistani-Canadian farmer fills crop void in Canada
Bob Baloch changed careers from IT sector employee to multi-crop farmer
Canada has a budding crop of farmers, readying to take over as many of the country's growers set to retire over the next decade.
Bob Baloch immigrated to Canada from Pakistan to work in the infomation technology field, but is now busy growing fenugreek and okra at his organic farm.
In Canada, half of the country's farmers are older than 55, and about three-quarters of them will retire over the next decade.
Baloch's parents were surprised by his sudden career shift from a computer desk to an open field.
"They’re thinking that I got crazy working [a] stressful job over here in North America," he told CBC's Metro Morning.
But Baloch said he knew he wanted to be a farmer because while it's as time consuming as IT work, it is less stressful. He also wanted to change his kids' perspective on food.
"They always have thought that to buy food, just go to the store and buy it," said Baloch, adding his kids knew what a farm was, but didn't understand how hard it can be for farmers to earn a living.
Baloch grows crops that he calls ethnically motivated to South East Asia, like fenugreek and okra. These foods are commonly used in North America, but rarely grown on the continent. This means most grocery stores sell days old product, which Baloch says sacrifices flavour.
His fresh, flavourful crops seem to be in demand.
Baloch teamed up with a major grocery store last year to sell his okra and he hailed the project a success, saying customers would line-up on his scheduled delivery days and the okra would sell out quickly.
CBC's Here and Now food columnist Sarah Elton explores Canada's next generation of farmers in a special radio program.
Made in Canada: Food, Farming and Our Future airs on CBC's Radio One at 5 p.m. ET.