At Ashfount Investments, we believe that every project we support should have family at the heart of it. We know how hard it can be to start up agricultural businesses, and how important it is to nurture families along the way. We understand that every employee, customer, supplier, and partner involved also has a family behind them.
We believe in family first. To us, this is an essential part of wellbeing to ensure that everyone we work with has an achievable work-life balance. This is an important step in ensuring every individual is able to have a healthy family relationship, and that they feel supported by us in whatever needs arise. This means that we ensure each individual is paid appropriately, that they have the right economic conditions to support not only themselves, but their nearest and dearest as well.
We see each worker not as a commodity, but as integral members of businesses. In order to drive viable, sustainable investments that meet with our core beliefs, each worker needs to be healthy, fit, and happy; to thrive at home, and at work. We believe in treating every member as part of our family, not just as another cog in the wheel. With this in mind, we encourage that work hours are not anti-social and allow time to share special moments with family and friends. Whether it be having time for family dinners every night, or allowing for flexible conditions where family situations necessitate it, we are here to support you along the way. For any of the investments we make, this is also an integral aspect of our relationship with your business and ensuring this support is extended to your workers, too.
This background centred on family is an ethical one. We believe that we require others to help us along our life’s journey and give meaning and purpose to the everyday. This means also supporting in practical ways, such as with legal aid and in other situations. We realise that the current state of the agricultural industry does rely on immigrant workers, and where we believe there needs to be a shift in the system to support these workers, that is still a long way away. Therefore, we encourage the legal support of these workers, and ensuring that it is possible to have a healthy life, while being paid a proper wage, rather than creating exploitative conditions that are family unfriendly, and ensuring that all workers feel a part of the project.
So, what does family mean to us?
We know how important family is. Coming from a seven-sibling family and now having one of our own with eight children, we deeply understand the purpose and vitality that family life brings to the everyday. It means more than just our immediate family, it means yours too. It means our family of workers and those associated with our investments. It means togetherness, community, and looking after each other. Increasingly, families become fragmented by globalisation, work, and stress. Here at Ashfount, we believe in reconnecting our familial bonds and that, in doing so, it is possible to create more amenable work situations, and encourage the longevity and sustainability of successful projects.
The Problem: Overworked and Underpaid
There are defined issues within the current labour environment, and much of it centers around workers rights and recognition. Especially in the states, which proportionately has a high level of migrant and undocumented workers, earning little pay, despite their essential role in society. Many work hours are anti-social, compounded by the seasonal instability of work, which leaves little to no time for family. With a staggering 31% of the global share of workers being farmworkers, this is an essential area that needs redressing in order to ensure the viability and sustainability of the agricultural industry.
Although farmworkers are protected to some degree by unionization, the picture has not changed sufficiently since the initial stages of recognition of farm labour. The beginnings of farmworkers unionizing happened in the wake of industrialization. Cesar Chavez led the movement of farmworkers across the West Coast, from Southern California up into Sacramento. This is the origin story of the United Farmworkers, now a nation-wide organization that represents its workers. The Farmworkers Movement was borne from a disturbing lack of pay, especially in the wake of large migrant-workers arriving in the U.S. in a time where less Americans were interested in farmwork. Horrific conditions, poor pay, and a lack of common rights led to a large proportion of the farmworkers to begin unionization.
This resulted in recognition of the necessity of farmworkers to the general wellbeing and food security of a nation. Unfortunately, however, we have yet a long way to go. In America, the picture today is not too unchanged:
“Farmworkers are generally poorly paid, many key workers have little access to legal help or proper accommodation, and a large proportion are migrant workers.” (USDA: National Agriculture Worker Info, 2019)
Amid our most recent global crisis, farmworkers have risked their lives everyday to provide food for nations around the world. The Pope is astutely quoted saying that we are not doing enough to support and protect our farmworkers, and appeals for their respect.
Highlighted the Farmworkers Forum, the importance of farmworkers as integral to making meaningful shifts in the agricultural industry is clear:
“Worldwide there are a lot of policy debates about how to fight hunger and poverty, how to make agriculture more sustainable, and how to create a more equitable food system. Clearly, there will be no sustainable solutions for food and agriculture without our voices and visions.”
This is exactly why we believe that involving and nurturing all individuals within our projects is important. To have energy and drive to participate in change-making projects requires a healthy lifestyle.
The Problem: Under-Priced
With margins gaining in the agricultural industry, too often producers will price themselves ‘competitively’. But making your prices cheaper to entice consumers, sacrifices the honest, hard labour of yourselves and your workers. That is why we believe in produce that is ‘honestly priced’. To us, this means that produce is priced in a way that gives farmers and workers a fair wage.
We aim to shift the attitude away from trying to generate massive profit for individuals, at cost to others and workers’ wages. Rather, we believe that properly paid workers and farmers will be more resilient, healthy and happy in their lives, giving meaning and purpose to their work, and ensuring that every individual feels a part of a greater whole. This is essential to stabilizing communities, local economies, and ensuring the health of the agricultural industry to come. If we want to be able to feed our planet, and the people in it, more sustainably, this has to include the way that we work.
The Problem: Work/Life Balance
We know how hard it is to work on a farm or farm-related business. We also know how easy it is to end up sacrificing quality time with our families. Too often, the reality of life on a farm or as a start-up business can inadvertently push away the things in our lives which are the most important. That’s why we’re committed to working with all of our projects to ensure it is possible to find an appropriate work/life balance. Why? Because we believe that happy, healthy people are good for business.
We see that people work harder if they are able to find the time to spend with their loved ones, and by feeling supported and appreciated. For us, this means minimizing anti-social hours, facilitating migrant workers by supporting accommodation solutions, and supporting individuals and families to live healthy, safe lives.
We believe that this all totals up to more sustainable businesses with viable, long-term goals. This long-sight approach is integral to Ashfount Investments, as we believe this generates more robust foundations for sustainable businesses. For us, this is about building beliefs and processes that support health and vitality – for both the family, the farm, and the business.
At Ashfount Beliefs, we wholeheartedly believe in the power of family, whether that be your family at home, at the farm, or anywhere in between. Nurturing families to develop healthy, sustainable businesses with long-term goals is an integral part of how we develop viable investments. We believe in the long-term, steady growth that allows for a healthy work-life balance will lead to investments that are more robust and, over time, will show consistent growth.
Our Solution: Supplier Transparency
We believe in supplier and partnership transparency. We work with all of our partners, suppliers, retailers, etc. at every level to ensure their values meets with ours. To us, it is important to reiterate the necessity of fundamental changes required to shift the current status-quo. This includes supporting those that we work with throughout the supply chain to meet these standards, too, incentivizing businesses that don’t cut corners, or turn a blind eye, but take ownership and responsibility for their part in the industry.
We do our part to help achieve this transparency, by having constructive and direct conversations with each involved party to find a common framework that helps build sustainable, healthy supply chains.
Our Solution: Beyond Investments
At Ashfount Investments, it doesn’t stop with our workers, or the family of our workers – we believe in nurturing all families through our projects. Whether it be by supplying high-quality produce to local families, restaurant businesses, or further afield, or supporting in community efforts to build more resilient local economies, Ashfount Investments are there alongside you. We believe that good quality food, and a regenerative stewardship of the land, which is free from additives, pesticides, and chemicals, is good for everyone. This is why we like sustainable food businesses, because they have a direct, tangible, and far-reaching impact on the health and wellbeing of many individuals beyond our immediate circle of co-workers.
The U.S. is suffering a health crisis. And it’s root cause is on our plates – families eat less together than before, and what we eat is not nutritionally complete. Through our projects, we want to support families and individuals far and wide to make these changes, through our projects. By encouraging more families to eat together, and to eat well together, we hope to do our part in contributing to reversing the dire effects of the American lifestyle and diet.
We believe education is key. That’s why we also invest in businesses that promote the dissemination of information about our current food and agriculture system, such as TexasRealFood.com. We believe that by tackling practical ways to increase food literacy in America, we can help make healthy food more accessible, increase the positive impact on farmers utilising regenerative practices, and support those that wish to learn more about what’s on their plate. To us, this is about more than a good recipe or product recommendation, it’s about offering reflections on the very real impacts our current system has, and to empower individuals to feel they are able to make conscious, healthy decisions for themselves and their families.
At Ashfount Investments, we take our responsibility seriously in helping to promote viable alternatives to secure our future on this planet. In the face of the mammoth tasks that faces us all, we are committed to supporting those we work directly with, whether it be our employees, farmhands, supplier chain; our local community, or those further afield. As stewards of the land we believe that change begins at home.