Booming Wholefoods Business Overcomes Challenges of Staying Small While Meeting Demand
Nourishing Wholefoods, formerly known as The Happy Sprout, has expanded beyond sprouts to include new product lines as they work on new certifications, and is still just as focused on accessibility, affordability, and sustainability. Lenni Semmelink and Shaw Kamada-Laws share not only the business, but also a three year old son and an 18 month old daughter, so team work is essential every step of the way. In fact, everything sold at the Farmers Market Stalls is directly made by them.
Over the last year, the demand for Nourishing Wholefoods has grown drastically, causing them to maintain high levels of production, upgrading and building new infrastructure, designing new labels, and even developing a whole new set of systems to market the products, which are now available at many of the organic shops on the coast.
“Doing this with two little children has been a big challenge, but we are lucky to be surrounded by an amazing team of friends and family, and together we are flourishing,” the couple stated. The additional challenge lies in keeping the small business “small,” as demand continues to rise.
“We've introduced a bunch of new products that we love and have lots of exciting plans for the future. However we are committed to limiting the growth of the business because we believe in the value of local food, local economies and a healthy lifestyle that allows plenty of time for family, friends and art, as well as time to nourish the body, soul, community and earth. All our efforts are focused around making it easier and more time efficient for us to do what we do, rather than increasing our output and scale,” the couple says regarding the recent changes.
The new infrastructure, that paved the way for their new products such as wild fermented salsa and wild fermented hot sauce, consists of a new cold room and undercover storage areas. This is quite an improvement from their formerly tiny cold room that was often filled wall to wall and stacked to the ceiling with products. Gone are the days of “triple handling” stock as they climbed to the back of the overly packed storage to obtain products.
Their new Kimchi and Sauerkraut juice – cultured tonic, is strained and bottled up to use as gut shots or salad dressings, and makes a delicious seasoning often substituting for vinegar or lemon for delicious sides like steamed veggies. Their wild fermented salsa has also been a hit among customers, and they can barely keep up with the demand for their wild fermented hot sauce, which ferments for over four months into a delicious and fresh flavoured probiotic hot sauce.
Perhaps their most unique addition is their Kola Nut Kombucha. While modern cola is made with sugar, phosphoric acid and other harmful additives, Nourishing Wholefoods uses a recipe made from kola nut (a stimulant native to Africa), lemon, orange and a blend of spices including cinnamon, clove, star anise and coriander seed.
“Actually, we are surprised that no one else has made cola kombucha as far as we know,” the owners said of the new hit product.
The farm is located on Tallgum Avenue in Doonan, and these first generation sprout farmers have been growing for the local area for seven years. For sustainability, they grow their sprouts indoors without soil, using filtered rain water, and soak them in a kelp and magnesium solution for extra nutrition. Even the bags which grow the sprouts have been handmade by family, from sustainable hemp. They even use high quality re-usable jars and bottles for packaging, so customers can reuse their containers for a discount, all while being a little greener. In addition, they have a large composting system that is expertly managed to process all the organic wastes, including large quantities of bones from their bone broth, another hot selling item. Their passion for sustainability is evident in each of their products.
“We believe eating well is more than just about eating for your health, but also about connecting with others and sharing knowledge, passion and inspiration for life! It also involves caring about where our food comes from and feeling a sense of connectedness with the natural world that we are all part of. It is really rewarding to have direct contact with the people who appreciate what we do and to share and learn all sorts of things, from recipe ideas to life philosophies with all sorts of different people.”
The business is currently undergoing a new accreditation process for growing sprouts. New legislation requires sprout growers to be accredited by Safe Foods QLD, so they have had to document their processes for accreditation, meaning their sprouts will return soon again as well, perhaps in just a few days. While it’s been a challenge to “grow small,” Nourishing Wholefoods has found a great balance for their produce and customers alike.
“From a business perspective, we've learned the value of keeping it all within the limits of time and energy we have rather than continually expanding which is so easy to automatically do. This way we stay passionate about what we do and focus on maintaining quality instead of being occupied with all the other work that comes with a constantly expanding business,” they stated regarding the recent growth.
While Nourishing Wholefoods now has some products available in many local organic shops, you can buy directly from them at Kawana Farmers Market as well as the Noosa Farmers Market.