Tucked away in a quiet corner of a green neighbourhood in Jayanagar, one of Bangalore’s oldest localities, is Go Native – a farm-to-table restaurant and a retail store that has today become a household organic lifestyle brand name.
Step into the Go Native restaurant and store and you will find that the space is a paean to all things sustainable – from the earthy interior décor, to the eco-friendly lights made of banana fibre and cement dust, to the organic, local vegetarian meals it serves up, to even the curated set of products in its store that are made by local artisans. Indeed, the Go Native brand is very clearly a celebration of all things local and healthy.
For Go Native Founder Anvitha Prashanth, an alumnus of the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the idea to start a lifestyle brand like Go Native first came to her when she was working on her internship in Berlin. There, her trips to the local farmers’ market made her grow fond of the farm-fresh produce and wonder about the dynamics of the organic farming market around the world and back home in India.
Cut to a few years later, Go Native’s offering of locally produced, pesticide-free foods, coupled with a wide range of handcrafted, eco-friendly products, is inspiring scores of Indian consumers to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
To be clear, what started out as a trend has snowballed into a full-fledged lifestyle choice with consumers increasingly turning towards organic food. Consumers today have become more conscious about what’s served on their plates and wary of the use of chemicals, fertilisers, and artificial additives.
Presently, the organic food market in India is pegged at over half a billion dollars, as per a joint study conducted by industry body Assocham and private research firm TechSci Research, and is expected to grow to $1.36 billion by 2020.
Sowing the seeds of sustainability
Centred around sustainability, Go Native was started by Anvitha in 2017, after she found herself instantly drawn to the concept of an interconnected ecosystem that promotes simple and conscious living and encourages a transparent link between producers and consumers.
Still, being a design and tech graduate, the field of sustainable organic farming was new to Anvitha – something that, in hindsight, appears to have worked in her favour. This allowed her to approach the notion of sustainability at a practical and implementable level, and turn it into reality in the form of the cosy Go Native restaurant and retail space in the heart of south Bangalore.
Curating a range of natural and healthy products
Spread across two floors of a two-storeyed bungalow, the Go Native restaurant and store have been immaculately designed to lend it an earthy, yet stylish and contemporary air.
Go Native’s farm-to-table restaurant, which boasts an inviting al-fresco balcony seating area, has a soothing ambience that’s accentuated only by the vegetarian meals that use fresh organic produce. In fact, Go Native – which sources its organic produce from a farm in the outskirts of the city – has a unique, cyclical menu that features meals depending on the ingredients available that season.
Attached to the restaurant is Go Native’s retail store, which houses products in personal care, groceries, apparel, and accessories. All the products here are made with sustainable materials by local artisans and NGOs. So, in other words, the store serves as a space to showcase ethical, locally made, eco-friendly products and brands.
And yet, what really sets the brand apart, is their Unpackaged retail section. Here, customers can bring their own containers and bags to shop verified organic grains, pulses, oils, fruits and vegetables that are sourced through Native Circle – which is a farmer-connect initiative through which the Go Native team sources a wide variety of indigenous grains, pulses, spices and oils from within a 500 km radius.
Challenges and creating Native Circle
In fact, Anvitha was inspired to start Native Circle after she found several gaps in the supply chain when sourcing local, organic produce directly from farmers. These included the lack of proper returns for the farmer, the need for a stronger connect at the supplier level, and the need to create complete value chains.
As part of the Native Circle initiative, Anvitha and her team created video content about organic and natural farming featuring farmers and academics from across Karnataka. They curated a roster of informative content – over 100 videos that were viewed over 7,50,000 times – with which they were able to build a community of over 8,000 farmers in the process.
“Ultimately, the aim was to establish a transparent ecosystem that allows the transition from conventional to organic/natural farming practices, while empowering farmers with information and additional monetary value,” Anvitha says.
Go Native community engagement and empowerment
But the restaurant and store aside, Go Native is working to create a community of sustainable living proponents. With this in mind, it has collaborated in sectors of design and operational interventions with a few artisan groups and cooperatives. Its key partners are The Kishkinda Trust and Dori. Together, they have set up new craft groups in different geographies and created research and training centres to upskill existing artisans.
In fact, Go Native, which is eyeing revenue of Rs. 6 crores at the close of fiscal 2018-19, is very involved in community engagement initiatives. Over a year alone, it has hosted roundtable discussions on the Slow Movement, led initiatives to beautify neighbourhoods, and organised a citywide Plogrun with participation from 7,000 people, which even won them the Guinness world record for most number of plastic bottles recycled in a 12-hour period.
And yet, Anvitha says Go Native’s sustainability mission has only just begun. She quips,
“So far, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I want to achieve through Go Native and Native Circle. The more I work in this space the more I feel there is to work on.”