‘Letzgrow’ is a business looking to revolutionise how we think about the food we consume. Starting out as just a few raised beds in a garden, the people at ‘Letzgrow’ are currently retailing vegetable bags which offer fresh items completely chemical-free and local. Noah Gudgeon interviewed Danny Hutchines, a worker at ‘Letzgrow’.
Noah Gudgeon - What is your role at 'Letzgrow?'
Danny Hutchines - I currently have a multifaceted role which touches upon all of our business aspects. My main focuses are currently a) the restaurant delivery aspect and ensuring those client relations are always at the foremost of our attention, b) preparation being put in for the opening of our shop in Junglinster by the end of the month, c) our greenhouse and micro green productions, d) general farmhand.
How did you start getting involved?
I had been travelling in Central America last year and enjoyed a 3-month volunteering in the middle of the Guatemalan Jungle where I had a small permaculture farm. The hostel I was working at was looking to become as self-sustaining as possible and I was helping to set up this dream.
Upon returning to Luxembourg I had been looking into opening a vegan restaurant, and through a friend came across Senad (the founder) and his Letzgrow project. We instantly hit it off in our first meeting.
How has business been doing? Is there a lot of demand?
Business has been doing great. We are growing steadily in our numbers of family bags and are happy with our current number of customers for the restaurant business.
We created a Facebook group to keep in touch with our family bag clients, giving them updates throughout the week from our Green Paradise in Gonderange. The idea is to create a community of people who are interested in horticulturism, eating clean, seasonal and local. Within 3 weeks of opening the group we are already at 300 subscribers and growing by the day so demand and just general interest in what we are doing is growing steadily.
What is it about 'Letzgrow' that draws customers in?
I think we are living in a time where there is a lot of talk of global warming, the agricultural impact on the planet, eating cleaner to avoid pesticides which are toxic, and the idea of moving back to localism rather than globalism in terms of our food consumption. In Luxembourg we currently import 95% of our fruit and vegetables from abroad, and this in a country which used to be part of the breadbasket of Europe. Of those 95% we import 50% from our BeNeLux neighbours so it is not necessarily down to climate that we import our goods.
I think a combination of this collective conscious as well as responsibility for our planet has led to such a keen interest in the project. I believe that the way we cultivate land, our ´no dig ´of soil approach, zero chemicals and regenerative gardening, fresh, local and seasonal vegetables resonate with many of our clients. Our gardening philosophy of feeding the soil rather than plants enriches the soil year after year.
But above all I think more and more people recognize the importance of chemical-free produce that comes from a local farm that they can visit and learn where and how their veggies are producedThat is the main thing that attracts our clients.
© Letzgrow Friends Group
How challenging has managing such a business been? Any obstacles?
We are learning every day. However, this isn't so much a challenge as it is a motivating force every morning that we go to work. In terms of actual challenges and obstacles, a big one for the past couple of years has been the extreme dryness throughout the summers. Since I joined Letzgrow in March, we have had a handful of rainy days at best, so keeping our plants sufficiently watered and dealing with bolting plants has been a daily challenge, but one for which we are preparing for, come next season. The driving force behind this project is our eagerness to learn, improve, and not being afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.
What are your plans for the future of 'Letzgrow'?
We currently have 3 main lines of business, the restaurant delivery service, aptly named ‘A Chef's best kept secret’, our family bags and then some pro-bono work we do together with the ‘Equitable’ project in partnership with the Ville De Luxembourg, a number of Foyers and ‘L’Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte’.
These three lines are something we wish to expand upon organically in the coming years, by a) hiring more motivated staff who believe in the same principles we use in the garden, b) expanding our farm to include a second plot not far from our Original Garden in Gonderange, c) taking on more pro-bono projects, helping refugees integrate in Luxembourg through gardening, cooking and the creation of local communities centered around the garden, d) we are looking to include more education for children, delivering veggies to school canteens, and taking groups of children out to our garden to show them where their food comes from, and letting the kids do some planting and harvesting themselves.
Finally, a project we would like to start up is our Garden Solutions Services. This would include helping people set up their own gardens at home in their unused lawns, or even on balconies and terraces. The leitmotif of our entire project is the establishment of a community and this again is part of our core beliefs. This line will kick off soon and our goal here is to try to influence, motivate and train people to grow their own food.