Interview with Angela Santiago
“My dad and I washed the first crop by hand in our bathtub,” says Angela Santiago, chief executive officer and co-founder of The Little Potato Company. And, thus, begins a success story, one seemingly straight out of the annals of U.S. history. Only the story belongs to Canada and has roots in Dutch culture.
Jacob van der Schaaf, a Dutch immigrant, told his daughter, Angela, that he couldn’t find any potatoes in Canada with the same delicious taste “and creamy insides” as he remembered from his youth. So, in 1996, he put an idea to Angela: why not test out the market for little potatoes?
They grew their first acre of potatoes by hand, planting, weeding and harvesting it themselves. The first crop was a success, so father and daughter made use of an old root cellar where Angela began the arduous task of sorting, washing and bagging the potatoes.
Then, it was packing them into the back of her hatchback and setting off for farmers’ markets and restaurants.
“I think I always had an entrepreneurial spirit in my blood, but I never recognized that,” Angela says. “I saw that in my dad.”
“He had never farmed before. Do you believe that? He’s always had a love of agriculture and became a farmer in his mid-60s. It’s never too late. My dad started a whole new career in his 60s,” Angela reflects.