AquaGrowGreens, The Next Agricultural revolution

"AquaGrowGreens is not unique. Other hydroponics companies exist. Other hydroponics companies exist in Vietnam. Other companies exist where corporate social responsibility is in every strand of its DNA. We’re not unique--but we are rare in what we do and who we are." - Storytelling by Owen Salisbury, Content Director at Aquagrowgreens

Our vision statement is one of the most ambitious I’ve ever read, in the scope and in the sheer goodness of its intent: “Use innovation, brilliant design and earth-friendly materials to help humanity eat daily portions of delicious, nutritious and trustworthy herbs, sprouts, fruits and vegetables wherever they may be.”

Not some people. Not most. Humanity. This is our corporate DNA. We are here to serve, to make the world a better place. And in service to our communities lie the seeds of our success.  

What does it say about a company that, before we had salaries, before we knew if our future is secure, the CEO and the various co-founders all went out to do good things? It says that, small as we are, we take that vision seriously. It says we start as we mean to continue.

Last week, we visited our farm a few hours outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the source of our organically-grown seeds and one launching point for our future. While there, we planted trees, inspected crops, assisted with agri-tourism development and taught English to the children of local farmers. We met with town residents to discuss farming techniques and learn what areas most needed improvement.

Business in Vietnam is not simple. Our founder and CEO climbed in 6 years from project manager to Director of Asian Operations in a Canadian lawn-and-garden company. It was his vision, and his intensive experience doing business in Asia, that allowed him to found AquaGrowGreens in the first quarter of 2017.

He saw an opening: the general desire to eat delicious, trustworthy greens. He saw a means: hydroponics. And he brought like-minded people together, a vital first step that allowed the farm trip and everything to follow. His experience and his conviction brought the AquaGrowGreens team into being.

Hydroponics is the farming of plants in any matrix not soil, whether water, sand or any number of neutral materials. Plants take most of what they need from water, air and sunlight. Trace minerals necessary to plant health are provided by nutrient solution (another launching point, as looking into creating organic nutrient solution from seaweed has just begun.)

Hydroponics main advantages are in the space, ease, efficiency and precise control. Since you provide everything and do not depend on the vagaries of local soil, you control the output of the plants. Some studies show, in fact, that hydroponics can outgrow traditional soil-based agriculture on a per-hectare basis. This is before getting into the fact that hydroponic farms can be stacked, built vertically, as tubes, or in whatever shape is best for the available space.

Our personal hydroponic farms are designed with Dutch and Japanese knowledge and technology, rigorously tested at every stage, to take the utmost advantage of these characteristics. This, too, is one of our major stepping-stones to success: the intrinsic advantages of hydroponics.

Conventional wisdom--and public perception--hold that the purpose of a corporation is to make money, full stop. Whatever else it does, that is its sole responsibility to its shareholders; and its obligations to the law and the higher ideals of the common good are, at best, happy byproducts of doing something well.

As with much conventional wisdom, finding the exceptions often proves extremely valuable in the long run. This is not to say that the excellence of our products--born of cross-cultural collaboration--is a byproduct of our service.

Service to the community is not a byproduct of profitability, it is the source. This is our corporate niche: the defiance of expectation and the creation of a better future via excellent products explicitly trusted by our customers. 

Helping others attracts talented, dedicated people who share ideals of service and community. A common aim in which everyone believes is the engine of a successful enterprise. It’s brought the co-founders of AquaGrowGreens together, each from disparate backgrounds and possessing valuable skills and insights, all willing to work long hours and contribute their utmost efforts toward the goals set out in our founding.

While we do not claim to have a master plan to solve the world’s environmental problems, our principles offer us a path: to use our simple, initial designs as a source of earnings to fund second-generation products and community projects that bulwark our brand and create valuable local allies. The products themselves, by allowing the growth of healthy, nutritionally-significant foods in dietarily-significant amounts, will create sufficient brand awareness and trust to allow the next generation of products to enter a strongly-prepared and loyal market.

We’ve already begun testing our designs versus local competitors, and measuring in independent labs the nutritional impact of our sprouts and microgreens. Prototypes rarely function precisely the same as products made from properly created molds; this gap automatically lends itself to more conservative estimates of our advantages relative to our competitors.

With funding for the crucial molds cemented, we can conclude negotiations already begun with wholesalers and retailers in Vietnam, the US, Canada and Australia. Under our brand or as a white-label product cooperating with well-regarded seed companies in these countries, we’re confident that we will outperform existing products. 

A well-tested product is a salable product, and in that area our Product Designer, our Financial Adviser and our CEO all contribute qualities essential, different and demonstrated. 

Our founder’s 6 years in the lawn and garden business in Vietnam have given him a keen sense of what the local business world demand. Our Head of Special Projects--a graduate of the competitive Academy of Art in San Francisco--has the breadth of international experience to implement the company’s vision in a fashion appealing to locals and international clients alike. Our Marketing and Sales Director works tirelessly to introduce these products to key demographic groups while creating a reservoir of information and consumer trust that aligns with both our vision and the realities of our business. My skills and experience allow me the privilege of introducing you to AquaGrowGreens, our product lines, our vision and our goals.

What are our goals? To bring personal hydroponic farms to the Vietnamese market, and to leap from there into the international scene. The people of Vietnam care deeply about what they eat, and possess a rich tradition of growing their own food. 

However, particularly in the greater Ho Chi Minh City area, many people do not live in dwellings where they can grow their own food. Soil is too bulky, not to mention messy and inconvenient, for apartment dwellers and office workers. Apartments and offices barely fit a traditional garden of any size; they can fit a hydroponic one--particularly of the sort of vertical design now on our drawing boards.

Independently-owned farms. Locally-manufactured products. Earth-friendly materials. Charitable works. These are not costs; these are benefits, and means of producing value. These will provide significant returns if properly shepherded into our company’s process.

Creating the best designs we can and embodying corporate social responsibility are mutually-reinforcing activities. We want our customers, their family and their friends to be in the best possible health for the longest possible time. Our designers are focusing on increasing per-hectare yields relative to traditional agriculture. Agriculture is the cornerstone of civilization; hydroponics is the future of agriculture. Soil isn’t depleted. Deserts aren’t created. Hydroponic farms will help feed the cities of the future, integral components of skyscrapers whose carbon footprint goes negative even as their futuristic farms become a food source for everyoneFt working or living within.

We’re not there yet. But this vision and others of similar ambition fuel AquaGrowGreens’ efforts. Our customer base will trust us more the more we help improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Such goodwill cannot be measured in dollars; it is rather a measure of what companies should be. What companies can be.

What AquaGrowGreens strives to be; consumer trust in us powers our financial success.

It’s in this spirit that I want to share with you our view of the future: our personal hydroponic farms are just the beginning. We race to develop better, larger systems, and we will find better, larger ways to give back--planting more trees, teaching more children, improving more lives. In doing so, we will flourish.

Our hard work, our heart, and our industry will help us contribute to global feeding and to a sustainable future. If we are lucky, too, our products will literally be out of this world: every space agency on the planet is funding hydroponics research as the key to feeding astronauts and the predicted boom of the space economy.

We intend to be right there, giving back.

Article by Owen Salisbury, Content Director at Aquagrowgreens


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