The conventional business model of a farm usually involves a family or a single person owning a farm and hiring people to work the farm. This may have worked in the past, but research within the agriculture industry shows this may not deliver the best outcome nowadays for both the owners and the people involved. On the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, a youth-owned mushroom farm by the name of Plant Grow Eat is showing a new way forward for farms.
The business model at Plant Grow Eat is a take on the worker cooperative model but is more didactic in its early stages. Basically, the land and initial capital injection are provided by an investor to a group of young entrepreneurs. The investor, Peter Dillon, whose Ph.D. studies were focused on the implementation of similar projects, also trains the youth running it on how to build and make it profitable.
Over time, the profits are utilized to provide the workers with a salary and to pay back the investment capital, interest-free, at which point full ownership is handed over to the young people who worked to build it. Over the past five years, the project has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local village in which it is based, helping it to independently lift itself out of poverty.
The business model behind the farm is certainly the catalyst for Plant Grow Eat, but we can’t forget the role mushrooms play in all this. After all, with the demand for mushrooms on the rise, Plant Grow Eat is selling close to one tonne of mushrooms per week—mostly to tourists who gladly “buy almost everything available”.