Dr.Haritha Guduru and Dr.Neha Singh, Professors at the Institute of Management, Nirma University in Ahmedabad had reached out with an intention to write a case study about Vaksana Farms. We consider it an honour to have our story featured as a case study for the MBA students at this prestigious university.
The research for the case study started with an hour long conversation with Lakshmi Paati and Kasthuri Ammal. Both of them felt comfortable as Dr.Haritha converted in Telugu.
Following this conversation, we were sent a questionnaire to answer to help aid the creation of the case study.
We figured it would be helpful to publish the answers here since it will help all get a better understanding of Vaksana Farms.
1. How was the idea of Vaksana farms conceived?
We hail from an agricultural family and have been pursuing it for generations. While we had the farm in the family for many decades, it got its name Vaksana in 2010.
2.What does the word Vaksana mean?
Vaksana means Fertile & Lush Green.
3.What is farm stay and its background?
This Is an interesting background. Lakshmi Awwa, who is now 91 years old, always wanted to be an entrepreneur. This has been her lifelong wish. Her daughter, Kasthuri Ammal (72) shared similar interests. Both are great in cooking and their dishes are lip-smackingly delicious. They are fantastic at hospitality which comes naturally. There was lots of interest in staying at the farm and that’s how the idea of starting the farmstay began.
4. What does Vaksana farm stay offer to visitors?
Guests can occupy themselves with very interesting activities both within the farm and around the vicinity of the farm. You can find the full list of activities here. https://www.vaksanafarms.in/interesting-activities-at-vaksana-farms/
5. Can farm stay fall under Travel and tourism?
Yes, it falls under Rural Tourism and AgriTourism.
6. How is Vaksana different from other farm stays?
The main thing that makes Vaksana Farms different is that it’s run by two elderly grandmothers. At an age when most people retire, they have broken the stereotypes and followed their passion. They have proved that age is just a number.
Sustainability practices: Since most of the vegetables and grains are grown in the farm, there is very less environmental impact due to transportation of food. (Zero Mile Food). We are fully organic and do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Hospitality industry: We follow our southern Indian hospitality. The beauty of the farmstay is that guests feel they are visiting their grandmother’s home.
Employability: The farm has helped provide employment to 10.women from the neighbouring hamlets.
Cultural integration: Guests can experience rural life and appreciate the uniqueness of culture that is prevalent in the village. It’s quite different from cities from where most guests come.
7.What is the business model?
The revenues come from the following:
1) Guests accommodation (Farmstay).
3) Workshops and events
4) Selling farm produce to guests.
8.Immediate or small term goals?
Our goal in 2024 is to expand our garden and build a raised bed vegetable garden. Our aspiration is to grow 80% of our vegetable and green needs.
9.Future plans for Vaksana?
Our vision is to make Vaksana the most loved farmstay in the world.
Our long term goal is to construct 9 farmhouses in different parts of the farm. Currently, we have 3 farmhouses.
We want to make Vaksana Farms a destination for creative retreats and workshops where corporate companies can come and experience farm life. We plan to build outdoor and indoor event spaces.
10.Any member of the team with tourism experience/ background?
No one has any formal education in tourism.
11. Do you believe that traditional environmental ethics are being lost as a result of a significant loss of culture?
Absolutely. With modernization of machinery and brain drain to cities in search of jobs, we are losing our rural culture. We are happy that we are going in the opposite direction of returning back to our roots. We are very proud of our work at the farm.
12.Do you prefer eco-friendly products over others? How do you maintain this routine?
We try our best to follow eco-friendly practices. We do not use chemical fertilizers and instead use organic manure made from cow dung from our cows. We discourage the use of plastics in our farm. We request our guests not to bring plastic and if they do bring, we request them to take the non-compostable trash back with them.
13. How are solid wastes handled? What makes up the majority of the trash produced at your house?
The non-compostable waste is added to the municipal waste management section.
The compostable waste is added to the vermicompost section. This turns into rich manure which is very nutritious for the plants and trees.
14.How do you handle leftovers or food waste?
The leftover food is fed to the chickens, ducks, and turkeys. They love them. No food goes to waste in the farm.
15.Do visitors find the distinctive local features of your culture fascinating?
Yes, they do. Almost all guests come from cities. This is true of overseas guests from other countries too. For them, coming to a remote village and experiencing local culture is very fascinating. They are also able to witness the amount of hard work that the villagers our and this brings more respect to the food they eat.
16.Preserving natural and distinctive landscapes is the goal of culture-integrated rural tourism. What kind of experiences do you provide to your tourists?
We offer traditional cuisine that my 91 year old grandmother had learned from her great grandmother. We are very proud of passing this knowledge to future generations. We offer cooking classes and host popup restaurants where we serve traditional food.
Guests are encouraged to take part in farming activities. This gives them a feel of what it takes to produce food. For most of the guests, this is their first experience and leaves a core memory.
17.Does your business model create possibilities for individuals and contribute to the preservation of agricultural heritage?
Yes, it does. We encourage our guests to join in the preservation of local cuisine. We are publishing the recipes of Lakshmi Awwa which will be useful for guests to follow. We teach guests traditional village games. Even more than kids, it’s nostalgia for the adults and they are thrilled to play the games they played as kids.