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Immortal Musings

Mission 1 and the defintion of "Sustainability".

by Ralph Kenney

January 21, 2016

Last week I shared our new mission statements with you. This week, as promised, I’m explaining our 1st mission a bit more in depth so you might better understand what we aspire to.

Let me start by reiterating the first mission;

In the next 5 years Immortalitea will create sustainable livelihoods for 100 family tea and herb farms and their workers

I chose 5 years as the time frame for both of our mission statements because it’s far enough out that we can accomplish big things but soon enough that I can see the path from where we are to where we want to be.

The word sustainable is important. I mean sustainable on a number of levels. The livelihoods we create will be ongoing, producing a living for our farmers every year.

                                                              Our Jasmine Pearl Tea Fields

 We will do so in a manner that respects the land by adhering to organic principles, being 100% chemical free and maintains healthy productive farmland. We are especially supportive of wild-crafted teas and herbs because we believe nature does it best.

We will also respect the people who own the farms and work their fields. We do not allow child labor on our farms and our annual charitable gifts are now exclusively focused on childhood education programs in the areas where we grow our teas.

The treatment of workers on commercial tea farms is a growing problem. I’ll be talking about this more this year in my newsletter and on Facebook. 

Picking Jiaogulan In Jiangxi Province China

Tea farming is hard work. During the harvest season everyone on the farms can expect to put in long days. As an example, I recently contracted for the spring harvest of a new organic Dragon Well Green Tea. I’m excited about this new tea and I’ll be talking about what makes ours unique when the harvest comes in. But, the workers who harvest this tea have to get up 4 hours before sunrise to reach the fields in time to harvest the tea and get it back to the drying station before nightfall. It makes for a very long day.

For many people in North America this seems unreasonable. But these workers are happy to have these jobs. For their part of China, they are paid well. I learned a long time ago, while working on UN projects in Central America, that trying to impose our standards on another culture is a recipe for disaster. The trick is to find a balance that respects their culture and style of life while not abusing people.

That’s one of the reasons I choose to work with small family farms. The number of non-family workers is small. The farm owners know every person by name and often the workers are treated like family. We’re not a big company that can pay monitors to be watching for labor issues. But I can look each of our farmers in the eye, get the sense if they are good people and observe their workers to see if they are smiling and happy.


Our Jiaogulan Processing Team in Thailand

 It’s not a perfect system. It relies to a great extent on the goodwill of the farmers I choose to work with. But I guess it’s a better system than the commercial operations where workers are anonymous, profit motive is front and center and organic certifications and fair-trade labels are for sale.

      Danny - Future CEO of Immortalitea

Lastly today, one of my readers responded to our mission statement by observing that it does not explicitly say anything about me making money. It’s a valid point. It was awkward to state in the mission statement, but I in no way mean to imply we’re a charity.

Our mission includes creating a business that creates good paying jobs for our growing team and abundance for my family. Moreover, I aspire to create a business that is still going strong and managed by my children and grandchildren. It is my dream that my grandchildren will be walking the same tea fields I will be walking this Spring, doing business with the grandchildren of the same farmers and supplying world class teas to your grandchildren.

We’re in this for the long haul. Sustainability is essential to creating the business we aspire to be and to the world we aspire to help nurture.

That’s it for today. As always, I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave your comments below the post.


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