How Earthy Tales is delivering chemical-free produce from farms to families
The use of chemical pesticides in food has long been a matter of concern and a hot topic of discussion in India. But today, chemical-free farming is bringing new hope. However, there’s a gap in the market: customers need access to pure authentic organic food while organic farmers need robust market linkage.
In late 2017, Deepak Sabharwal and Narinder Sondhi decided to bridge this gap and started Earthy Tales, a community-driven brand, which works towards removing chemicals and pesticides from farmlands by working with the farming community and ensuring that only poison-free food reaches the customers.
“Giving back to society is our driving force,” says Deepak, Co-founder and CEO,.
Deepak Sabharwal and Narinder Sondhi at WhatsApp 'Gateway to Billion Opportunities' event in 2019.
They also seek to maximise farmer benefits by eliminating middlemen in an otherwise long supply chain, while educating consumers about the harmful effects of chemical-laden food and bringing in more transparency about food sources.
Bridging the gap with WhatsApp
The company started operations using WhatsApp and Facebook before moving to a functional website and delivery app. All their farmers are still connected to them through WhatsApp.
They use the app to take orders, update delivery status, receive farm pictures, and even share live updates to over 2,000 customers using the broadcast feature.
They use it to give customers a glimpse into organic farmers’ lives by sharing live updates from farm visits, challenges faced by farmers, and the ill-effects of eating chemical-laden food. They also train farmers via the app by sending tips on organic farming.
The Earthy Tales products
This education has had a positive impact on a large section of society, which helps them to appreciate the efforts and challenges faced by organic farmers.
"Farmers are able to show us their live feeds, weather, harvesting situation through WhatsApp video calls,” Deepak says.
The business has grown 100 percent over the last year; they were able to triple their business income by using WhatsApp as a communication tool. According to Deepak, the app helps to build a good rapport in the early stages.
“Using WhatsApp, there's been a direct and positive impact on all areas of our operations. It has made businesses more humane, interactions more personalised, and brought customers closer to businesses.”
The power of 'community'
Earthy Tales proudly calls itself a community-driven brand and its DNA revolves around working closely with the farming community and people from the city. WhatsApp has helped them immensely to reach these communities. They support several women agri-cooperatives by building direct market linkages for them.
Their passion to bring about a change both at the farm and city level prompted them to conceptualise and drive a Nukkad Natak (street play) which hovers around passing key messages about growing and consuming food without any chemicals. They have been going to different city schools, RWA communities, farmer markets and even groups of farmers to stage this play.
Narinder Sondhi, one of the Co-founders, says, “We see a different farming and city community emerging in the next five years. There would be a paradigm shift towards organic farming pan-India, and Earthy Tales will be a catalyst in bringing about this revolution."
Next in line are the farm visits which the team will arrange in order to meet and see different farms and build connections.
New growth verticals
Today, with a 15-member team, Earthy Tales works with over 500 farmers to serve fresh, organically-grown produce to over 2,000 families in Delhi-NCR. Their offerings have grown from 5 to 200+ organic products, including vegetables, fruits, flours, oils, spices, snacks, jams, preserves, and pickles.
“Next in line are organic, bakery, ready-to-eat snacks and health/cure meals verticals," says Gauri Bhatnagar, who has joined the core founding team to lead growth and technology at Earthy Tales.
Gauri Bhatnagar with Smriti Irani at the Organic Festival in Delhi.
Gauri comes with hands-on experience in founding and running a startup in the health food space, and envisions healthy snacks and cure meals as the next big vertical from Earthy Tales. They have already started piloting the same in a select few micro-markets.
While their roots lie in organic farms and the farmers they work with, Gauri is busy re-wiring Earthy Tales using technology and linking farmers to digitise the supply chain as well as improving the entire customer experience. They have just launched their new web app and will also be piloting with WhatsApp chatbots in the coming months.
Gauri says, “We are aspiring to build India’s first direct-to-consumer (Internet-based) organic food brand with a full-stack offering of chemical-free food products (from perishables to dry groceries to bakery, healthy snacks and cure meals), nested on a vertically integrated agri supply chain.”