The New Year, chi Sim, and the Fargreen dream
The new year has started everywhere but here in Vietnam (and places that also celebrate Lunar New Year), we are enjoying a little eclipse of time when both the “new” year and “old” year are at present. We especially love this special time of the year because there's a balance in the air between the tendency of pulling back to ponder over the old and of making a leap into the new.
Pull back and ponder:
“Surf beautifully” was the theme of Fargreen in 2018. It's been quite a surf for all of us, going through so many “waves”, big and small. The spring was fun with big orders from new partners. As the result, we had to ramp up production to double our capacity and before we knew it, we were jammed in the trouble of a negative cash flow. Classic startup problem! Then came the summer with its hot and fluctuating weather pattern that almost completely drown our operations.
But then, one day during that very time of turbulence, when we were cleaning our farm office, a reminder suddenly fell onto us. It was a painting done by chi Sim (chi = sister in Vietnamese), our farmer network coordinator. Chi Sim did this on our very first team retreat when our CEO & founder Trang Tran asked everyone in the team to conceptualize the dream they had for Fargreen.
It was a simple and straight forward vision that chi Sim had for Fargreen: going far beyond her home community, spreading through the whole country of Vietnam. And it’s the biggest dream she ever had, she told us and she believed it's possible, just like it's possible for a farmer like her at the age of 55 to be part of the Fargreen team.
You never know the power of a simple reminder until you got one at the right time. It helps you breathe just one more breath to stay alive and switch your perspective, not to something new but to the very moment when it all started: “...the goal is to prove that businesses can do well by doing good, that you can build prosperous and sustainable farming communities, prioritize the environment and still create a successful enterprise.” - our goal statement from day 0.
The turbulence forced us to look back at all of our procedures (production, financial, sales) and optimize them till the tiniest detail to keep us alive. We were stripped bare to our core and could feel the beat of every single cent that came and left our account. With the help of a volunteer from Japan, we were able to create an organized ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to connect all different databases from different teams within the company and use them to guide our operational decisions.
Making the leap
As we maneuvered through the wavy ocean, we have gained a wider vision for the Fargreen dream from the business model perspective and it looks something like this:
If you’ve seen our previous blog, you would know that we've just recently added a bee component in our ecosystem. As we all know, bees pollinate a third of everything we eat and play a vital role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystems. Here in Vietnam and many places around the world, bee farmers are struggling to make a living and to sustain their bee population as our natural ecosystems are being destroyed by the overuse of chemicals in farming. Hence, we're so thrilled to include the bees and their caretakers to be part of our ecosystem so we can all support each other for a more sustainable future.
So now, besides delicious mushrooms, natural veggies and local rice produced in our signature closed-loop model, we’re also serving natural honey and it fits in the loop, too.
And fly the Fargreen dream far...
As the Lunar New Year is coming close, we are preparing chi Sim for her first business trip to Gia Lai - a province down South, in the Central Highland part of Vietnam, to pilot our Fargreen model in a rural community there. This is the home to many poor ethnic minority people and there's an alarming need for a sustainable model like Fargreen to improve the local's income and preventing harmful practices on the environment as they live very close to the forest area.
The opportunity came to us by chance when a young local heard about Fargreen through her friend and wanted us to pilot the model at her home village. A local with burning desire for a sustainable future for herself and her village - sounds like a classic Fargreen start, right? We'll keep you posted on this on our other blogs this year. So stay tuned!
Or better, come visit and support us this year! We need your helping hands to sustain and grow Fargreen to benefit more and more farming communities and their local ecosystems.
Thank you and have a buzzily mushrooming year!