Brothers Kin Wah Leung and Kin Hun Leung recognized good advice when they heard it close to three decades ago. As a result they have grown a successful business selling fresh produce through their 27-location Kin’s Farm Market chain of stores that started at Blundell Centre in 1987.
The advice came from Alice Wong, the Richmond MP who back in the late 1980s was their business/entrepreneurship studies teacher at Vancouver Community College. She suggested the pair — who in their late teens and early 20s moved to Canada from Mainland China — go ahead with their business plans after recognizing their drive to succeed.
So, when they heard some more advice, from the same source recently, they again listened.
The suggestion was to give back to the community, something they do regularly, but this time through a local conduit that shared their passion for fresh fruit and vegetables as a foundation of healthy living — The Sharing Farm Society.
Thursday morning, the brothers handed over a cheque for $10,000 that will be put towards the Sharing Farm’s barn building project, an estimated $200,000, two-storey, 1,500-square-foot facility which will help improve efficiencies in supplying low-income residents with fruits vegetables grown on the non-profit organization’s three-acre site at Terra Nova.
“Way back when, they were thinking beyond the box,” said Wong who was on hand for the cheque presentation and became involved with The Sharing Farm in her role as federal minister of state for seniors. “They weren’t just selling produce, they were selling freshness. They have been a great success story by being innovative and working really hard.
“And what I appreciate about them the most is the way they pay back to the community.”
“Richmond is like a home for us. So, we will do whatever we can to support the community. And this is a good opportunity to help the Sharing Farm,” Kin Hun said.
An old garage on the Sharing Farm site previously housed some operations, but fell into disrepair and was torn down last summer leaving a number of activities scattered across the farm site.
“A barn will provide us with a place for a number of activities, storage for vegetables, room for storing equipment and give us space to hang our garlic, cure our herbs and process our honey,” said James Gates, manager at the Sharing Farm.
“We’ve got about $50,000 in donations so far, including the one from Kin’s Farm Market. And we’re looking for more contributions.”
Gates added the barn will be named “Mary’s Barn” in honour of Mary Gazetas, the late City of Richmond staffer who co-founded the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project which evolved in The Sharing Farm.
The Sharing Farm provides produce through the Richmond Food Bank for about 1,500 low income people on a weekly basis.
“Thirty-five per cent of those are children, 20 per cent are seniors, and the rest are families,” Gates said. “The quantity of food we provide to the food bank is about 15 per cent of all the vegetables it distributes.”
Hopes are to have the barn built by late winter or early spring of 2015.
“I hope this is a good beginning and things will spin off from here,” Wong said. “Government can help, but it’s the spirit of the community in these types of situations that counts.”