A new subscription service will allow consumers to run their own farm, choosing the fresh produce that they would like to grow and receive.
The tiny farm will be the customer’s own, with remote management options so that hands-on interference is not required.
New subscription model
These days, subscription boxes are all the rage. You can get nerd-themed gifts delivered monthly, a selection of the latest brightly-coloured socks, craft beers from around the country, or special organic vegetables.
One company has come up with an idea to take things even further. From £65 a month, consumers will be able to grow their own organic produce on their own small section of land.
Mandala da Montanha was set up by Martin Schneesche and Alexandre Yokoyama in 2015. Based in Brazil, it is a farm where home-grown food is sold. Unlike with other models, it allows consumers to be part of the growing process, deciding which vegetables should be grown and when so that they can eat what they like.
This process cuts consumers right in to the supply chain, allowing them to choose from a list of vegetables that they may enjoy. This includes lettuces, beetroot, onions, spinach, scarlet aubergines, and okra. The food is then delivered to the consumer’s door as part of the service.
Millennials are the target audience for this service: they have an attitude of knowing what they want and wanting to get it immediately, and this is perfect for the current changes happening in the food industry. This duo believe that it’s better to sell directly to the millennial consumer, rather than to retailers.
“Being a little farmer sucks sometimes, because most people think that a lettuce head is always the same, which it is not. Distributors only want pretty vegetables, and always with the lowest cost possible. So we decided to sell directly to our clients, who value our products,” Schneesche says.
Direct management and control
One of the main appeals for consumers is the ability to see exactly where their fresh produce comes from and how it was grown. This also helps to reduce food waste: they decide how much they want and when, rather than overordering on items that they are not likely to eat.
Each customer will have 10 square metres of land. If they manage to produce an excess of food that they do not want, they will be able to trade the harvest with another subscriber to get something that they would prefer to use. They can also choose not to do this, though it adds a great extra level to the service and makes it more viable for those who are concerned they may not be able to eat as much of the products with a lower shelf life.
Mandala are determined to teach their subscribers to be more mindful about food and how to grow it. Part of their package includes classes in several areas related to farming. These include regenerative agriculture, tool handling, cultural dealings, and land management. These are available at no extra cost for all subscribers.
If the model continues to grow successfully, it could well be a way for small farmers to increase their products and have a closer relationship with their local communities. Rather than dealing with large retailers and manufacturers, who may squeeze prices down at the detriment of the farmer, they will be able to deal with customers directly. There are sure to be plenty of people in the marketplace who are interested in this kind of subscription service, so don’t expect to wait long before you see them popping up in more places than just Brazil.