Rosemont is doing it right and we’re looking forward to the day when the rest of the world catches up.
That world is still stuck in the old paradigm of thoughtless consumerism. The original definition of consumer is “one who destroys, or expends by use; devours, spends wastefully.” We would need 7 more planet Earths if everyone consumed at the rate of an average American. Bringing the same idea closer to our food system, it has been estimated that the true social and environmental cost of a hamburger when the forest has been cleared to create pastureland for grazing cattle is two hundred dollars.
So, from these problems comes our philosophy. Most of the outline of this philosophy, and all of the quotes and stats in this post, comes from the excellent book on “business” Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard (and while I’m recommending books, check out our Top 5 Books On Vertical Farming). If every business was only half-way inspired by Chouinard and co, the world would be a much better place and those businesses would probably be making even more money…especially once externalities were accounted for. So, interlaced with our progress pictures, here it is:
Grow the best food, cause no unnecessary harm…We want to grow food and grow food well. We also realize there are important planetary boundaries that must be considered during this process. From this simple concept grew our focus on having a circular production process.
Make everything as simple as possible… Over-complication without purpose is pointless. This applies to nutrients, lighting, and sales. That’s why we focus on what we do best and do it well instead of branching out into too many different processes and markets.
“Koshun Miyamoto once complimented his teacher’s wife on the beauty of her gravel garden, a square of coarse-grained sand, set off by three stones from a nearby stream that conveyed a “powerful, evocative image of space and balance.” The teacher’s wife protested that the garden wasn’t complete and wouldn’t be until she could “express the same feeling it has now using only one stone instead of three.”
Make the process easy and resilient… Many hydroponic and vertical farms are too fiddly. By contrast, we strive to design resilient systems with minimal failure points.
Weigh quality and integrity highest… We are convinced we are growing the highest-quality food in the best way possible. We’re not selling at the lowest price point because that price point only comes from ignoring the negative externalities of the production process. We are able to eliminate those, and still compete.
Work with good people and enjoy the work… We partner with restaurants, suppliers, and distributors who get “it.” They have the same concerns for the business, the planet, and the backseat that pure profit should take. Luckily, there are enough people that get it that we have no problem turning down people who don’t.
Share that work… This is a real way to change the world’s food systems for the better, and in truly comprehending the gravity of the problems the planet faces, businesses who say they care should actually do more to put the solutions in more people’s hands. This is why we put such an emphasis on teaching, education, and giving everything away on this site.
We’ve spoken with far too many farmers who won’t share information based on “business secrets.” But the truth is nothing anyone is doing is terribly new. Sure, some farms have combined elements of different processes in unique ways, but if your reason for not sharing is a fear of a competition, know you are missing out. Someone motivated enough to actually do anything with the knowledge you share with them is probably going to end up accomplishing their task whether or not you help them. It is better to help them and build a partnership instead of a competitor.
This has worked for us and led us to profits we would not have been able to get otherwise.
Regard ourselves as the best customer of our products…If we wouldn’t pay as much as we charge to purchase a product, we’ll lower the price. If we can’t lower the price, the product is not worth growing.
Iterate and lead an examined life… “In his book The Beak of the Finch Jonathan Weiner talks about an insect that was found preserved in amber. The specimen, millions of years old, is identical in appearance to that species living today – with one big difference. The present-day insect has developed the ability to shed its legs and regenerate new ones after touching plants covered with pesticides. Surprisingly, this ability has evolved just since the time of World War II, when pesticide use began. The lesson to be learned is that evolution (change) doesn’t happen without stress, and it can happen quickly.”
When we see something wrong with what we are doing, when we see greater leverage points for positive change, or when we see better business opportunities, we pursue it. We stay hungry, keep questioning, and keep doing the things that are scary.
And finally, It’s better to go out and do something than to stay home and plan something… This has been with us all along and is the reason why we’re even here at all.