Startup of the Week – The Little Farm Co.
| 4 minutes read
Founded in – 2017
Industry – F and B, Agriculture
Founder – Niharika Bhargava
CEO – Niharika Bhargava
Startup Motto – Keep trying, either your failures will teach you or you will win.
Startup Funding – Bootstrapped
Team Size – 20
Below is the transcript of our interview with The Little Farm Co.
Could you please tell us about The Little Farm Co. to our readers, and what you offer to your customers?
We offer pickles, superfoods, like flax and chia seeds, and marmalades using the produce -fruits, vegetables, and spices – from our own land in a small village in Madhya Pradesh. All our products are without any preservatives and additives. We use khand or jaggery instead of sugar, pink salt instead of white salt, cold-pressed oils instead of refined oils, and natural vinegar in all our products. The employees at the production unit are mostly women belonging to the socio-economically disadvantaged section of society.
When it’s come to the word ‘Organic’ nowadays almost most companies claim their product to be organic. How your products are different from them and what special precautions you’re taking in organic farming?
Every company claims that their products are THE BEST, TASTY, HEALTHY ETC ETC. But we at the Little Farm Co. go the extra length to justify our claims. We own nearly 400 acres of lush farmlands in the interior of Madhya Pradesh, fed by unpolluted rivers, among some of the most pollution-free areas which are ALL bordering government-owned Forest Land. Our farms are in very low population density areas where there is no industrial activity(backward area)It is here that we grow our own fruits & vegetables along with most of the spices using organic farming practices. We also grow black and yellow sarson (mustard) and Til (sesame) to produce pure cooking oil.As far as possible we use Shakar and gur which is made without the use of gandhak(Sulfur) in place of sugar. Also instead of the normal table salt (high in sodium) we use siandha namak (rock salt).You are all welcome to visit our farms at any time to see for yourselves the farming practices, handcrafted pickle making and enjoy the joy of being in the lap of nature (most convenient location is Khajuraho).
Could you tell us about the wide range of products you offer? And who manufactures the products?
Our market survey indicated that most products (pickles) available in the market today are produced using mechanized processes and contain additives and preservatives to increase shelf life and provide stability to the product. These products somehow do not have the same appeal or taste as hand-made/homemade pickles do.
Therefore our endeavor is to provide customers with pickles that are farm fresh, preservative, and additive-free using traditional recipes and that taste exactly as pickles used to before the modern food processing industry started.
As we do not use any preservatives or additives, some of our pickles may be seasonal in nature (those which expire in 6 months or less). However, the pickles with 1 year plus expiry should be available almost year-round. The Super-foods are available throughout the year.
Our products are made using old/forgotten/traditional recipes and in the same way, they were made when the recipes were written – BY HAND.
The changes we have made are that the HANDS are covered with gloves and the HEADS with caps. The modern production machine that we have recently introduced is one domestic Mixie (The only electronic gadget in our unit).
Our farms are completely free from flies, mosquitoes, and insects throughout the day (We have them during the monsoons when no pickles are made). The fruits and vegetables that we use for pickling are plucked RIPE 2 hours before they are processed. We need the 2 hours lead time to wash and dry them in the Sun. (No artificial ripening is done to the fruits/vegetables or the end product). Then our pickles are Sun-drenched in wide-open spaces with ample space between the containers to allow each container to get Sun rays from all sides in the day (The containers are kept in an East to West direction).
What are the challenges you faced during the initial days? And how did you push through?
One of the major challenges we faced was logistics as our production unit being in a remote village also the only industry in the area that’s the reason we only do value-added products with a shelf life of at least 3 months +
Another challenge we are still facing is sustainable packaging for long-distance orders (as our product is in glass jars) which we are continuously working on and evolving. If any of your readers have any solution would request them to get in touch.
What is your vision and mission behind this company? And where you want to reach? Any future plans?
Our mission is to provide tastier healthier alternatives to our customers taking them back to the roots. Our long-term plan is to hit the export market.
What have you failed at? And how you recover from that phase? Because being an entrepreneur is not easy, it’s like walking on the stone each day. What boosts your mind when you face failure?
Delegating, over time I learned that it’s not possible to do everything yourself. A great company is because of its team. So I understood the need for expanding and delegating.
In which cities you’re currently serving? Any further expansion plans?
We are across all major tier 1 cities across India and the best organic stores in these cities. Our website www.thelittlefarm.co.in delivers PAN India. Apart from that, we are at about 35 websites.
You are inspirational for many young entrepreneurs, at the age of 24 you started your startup, how it feels? Any secret formula to young entrepreneurs?
Just don’t be scared to try new things, you wouldn’t know if the idea works until you try. We are young so we can take these risks, of course after proper market research.
Could you describe yourself in one word?
All-rounder, as a founder you need to be an ace of all trades haha.
Before we conclude the interview, anything you want to say to the Unboxing Startups team?
Thank you so much for reaching out to me! All the best.