OF THE STORY OF THE NATURAL UNFOLDING OF THINGS
The monastery was situated on land
The land had trees
The trees gave fruit
The fruit happened to be delicious
We made jam
And we made coffee
And we made wine
And so. much. more.
A SELF - SUSTAINED GARDEN
With the aim of becoming self-sustained food-wise, our studies continued.
From companion planting, crop rotations, permaculture and biodynamics; to organic methods of fertilizing, of keeping away pests; to learning how to build terraces, swales, coop houses, gray-water systems, chicken housing,
etc etc etc...
And as we harvested the land's fruits, we experimented with endless variations of recipes until we found the best of the best of the very very best. -- Which is now what we bring to market .
And every year it will get better and better!
THE SHAN REN FARMS PART
In order to further develop the monastery's land, the terraces, the trees, the practice space, etc... And to help the surrounding impoverished community, money was needed.
We designed a label,
invented a brand,
packaged the products as best as we could,
and started Shan Ren Farms.
Now, we are no business people, nor expert marketers, our wish is merely to support the monastery, so that it can continue to benefit more and more seekers, and to support the surrounding local Guatemalan community
THE LEARNING CURVE
I remember googling: how to start a business.
Yes, laugh -- an overwhelming amount of E V E R Y T H I N G came up.
To give you an idea, up to last season we didn't even know what instagram was.
During our last warm winter at a local farmers market, we had the luck and pleasure of meeting the lovely family who runs Stedsans, a well-known Danish rooftop organic restaurant situated in a greenhouse, and as they bought our products they told us about how great instagram had been for them as a marketing tool.
I went back to google and searched the even more overwhelming word -- MARKETING.
--- our now existing instagram page ---
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MARKETING
(the following part is not so very serious)
As I studied some of what Internet had to offer (well, the free bits) I stumbled upon some good advice, part of which now I will now share with you.
I'll start with :
what who why how where when...
(Disclaimer -- This is my own interpretation of the doubleyeus, it's not the internet's fault.)
WHAT is our product.
All our products emerge because of something we love.
we love growing them,
eating & drinking them,
and we LOVE to be able to share them with you.
1. JOCOTE JAM , jocote is a high-property exotic delicious rare fruit of the cashew family, which, if eaten at the right time, delights in wonder all those whom happen upon it.
2. ORGANIC SPECIALTY COFFEE, our coffee is a specialty within a specialty within a specialty, it's all that any passionate coffee connoisseur would look in a bean, plus much more.
After our first harvest, the owner of one of the most famous high-end rosters in the US came out here for a coffee - farm - scouting trip, as we so call it, to collect samples from around Guatemala for cupping back home with a team of experts - coffee - people, as we so call them.
And we were told, that of all the samples he brought back from this trip, ours turned out to be by far the best one.
We are now on our second harvest, and we have experimented with new ways of growing, processing, and drying of the bean. Check out some pictures HERE :).
Next, was advised to identify one's "ideal customer":
WHO is our customer.
Our friend first of all :) .
And this friend commonly likes to know where his food comes from, he likes to know that it's supporting a good cause, that it grows among fresh high-altitude lake air, she likes that it's simple, clean, organic and that no weird stuff is added to it. This friend likes fair-trade, and likes the care that is put in small-batch handcrafted artisanal goods. She likes the detail, and she likes the feeling it gives her. He likes foods that hold that homemade uniqueness, grown with the attention and contemplation of a monk, and picked & packaged together with some of the coolest Guatemalans of this village.
SANTOS PICKING JOCOTES, VERY SAFE (or maybe not so very safe).
HOW does it best serve/benefit the customer? How will it improve their life?
Our jocote jam will brighten up any tough
or any one of life's many hard ventures.
The coffee will help you
make more friends,
impress the ladies,
start a conversation with an intriguing stranger,
better sing in the shower,
and even enter into politics.
Ideal for celebrations, marriages, funerals, boredom, laziness, indulgence, parties...
It's helped hundreds thousands millions throughout the galaxy already.
WHY should someone buy this product.
1. COFFEE - hoping to get up tomorrow morning to a really really really delicious cup of coffee?
2. JOCOTE JAM - You had a first crush, a first kiss, a first time driving a car, a first bad hangover, a first time away from home, a first heartbreak, a first time tasting jocote, ...what? ... no? ... You haven't tried jocote yet ?!
Well, there is a first time for everything. :)
You should try our jam!
Have you ever wondered what produced the food you eat?
Not only what was added/or not added into it, or how it was grown,
but the quality of mind & heart that went into it?
This is grown by monks and practitioners. Men and women who pass their lives studying the nature of things. People learning how nature works within themselves, within their environment and the relation in between.
From this study also comes our food. It carries that charge, you will know when you taste it. :)
AND, AS YOU WILL SEE IN THIS VIDEO,
WE ARE VERY SERIOUS ABOUT OUR BEANS, DOUBLE-CHECKING THEM ALL,
...ehm tasting them... turning them bunch by bunch ;)
SHOW YOUR EXPERTISE,
she then advised.
OUR EXPERTISE ABOUT JAM and PEANUT BUTTER:
(above: an Irish volunteer)
OUR EXPERTISE ABOUT COFFEE:
As any other Italian citizen,
I (who am writing) have been drinking coffee since the age of 4.
Of course, when you are a child your grandparents just give you the "goccetto" -- they put an extra spoon of sugar in their cup of espresso, stir it lightly so that it doesn't melt, and then drink it until the last bit, which consists in a delicious mix of half-melted sugar and coffee, which us kids used to call: "the gold".
That of course sent us bananas for the rest of the afternoon, but you know, it's culture :D.
Getting back to speaking seriously, we know our stuff.
We wish to learn the 361 degrees of the complex art of coffee,
but most importantly we have tried and made a great deal of mistakes, ever perfecting our bean, and ever perfecting our jam. And with great enjoyment we ever continue to improve and study. CLICK HERE to see photos from our research in the coffee lands
Grown in a small temple, monastery, and community, on lake Atitlán, Guatemala.
(soon in western countries too ;)
In 10 years you will still remember this,
this coffee, this jam, this peanut butter,
write to us when you do!
Wishing you a beautiful day