Ten Years of Singing Bowl Granola!

Posted by Jessica Duncan on

Year 1 for Singing Bowl Granola at James Bay Market

Singing Bowl Granola is launched at the 2011 season of James Bay Market.

In a few weeks I will be celebrating my ten-year anniversary of launching Singing Bowl Granola at the James Bay Market. This granola-fuelled decade has been a wonderful adventure, and I am so utterly grateful to each and every one of you who has helped me get this far. Keeping a business alive for ten years is no mean feat, and I feel like the journey deserves a little reflection.

I’m going to let you in on a secret – there’s not a fortune to be made making and selling local artisanal hand-made granola. I’ll tell you something else I’ve learned over my past ten years in business – I’ve learned to recognize what Enough looks like, and to celebrate it. Enough.

For me, having Enough means that there is a roof over my head, I can pay my bills without stress, there’s food in the fridge, and my kids are okay. Having Enough is plenty. Having Enough feels good. Having Enough means that when more comes along, I am in a position to share with those who might not have Enough. Understanding the concept of Enough has been one of my biggest lessons in life and has brought me an abundance of peace and happiness.

Learning the lesson of Enough did not come easily. When you run a business, you are expected to hustle. You are expected to grow – at any cost. At first you’re hustling non-stop just to pay the bills. But, once your business has grown to the point where you are comfortably able to pay the bills and pay yourself, the pressure to continue to hustle in order to grow the business bigger and bigger does not diminish. Our traditional business model is all about The Bottom Line, and if you’re not hitting those financial gains, you suck. You’re a failure. Everyone else is better than you. This is what we are told and taught and led to believe, and breaking free from this model requires both imagination and tenacity. You need to be able to imagine a different picture of what success looks like, and you need tenacity to hang on to this divergent reality in a world that will tell you otherwise.

So, if success doesn’t equate to huge profits, what does it look like? Early on, once I understood that even though I was not making a lot of money selling granola, I actually had Enough, I decided to create my own definition of success. I felt that my business was successful as it was a part of a growing community of fellow food processors and customers, and that felt both nourishing and good. Perhaps, more importantly, Singing Bowl Granola feels like a truly successful enterprise every time I deliver organic porridge to local schools, or cookies to be distributed among the street community, or huge bags of granola to The Rainbow Kitchen food bank. The rewards that come from sharing far outweigh any joy found in monetary gains. It is the pleasure I get from giving that has kept me going through the ups and downs of running this business over the past 10 years. In my business model, knowing that I am helping others is the main indicator of success.

 Serving hot porridge at Victoria's Tent City

In my happy place, serving hot porridge at a homeless encampment.

The traditional business paradigm is slowly shifting, but not fast enough to save all that is important. We live in a world built on the destructive extraction of natural resource from traditional Indigenous homelands. We are told these industries exist to create jobs, but we are not told that they also exist to line the bulging pockets of the rich. This model is broken and has caused untold damage across the world. It is more important than ever that we recognize when we have enough, and not always be growing to the detriment of our own health and happiness, and the wellbeing of the planet.

As I write this post, I am deeply worried about the fate of the Fairy Creek old growth forest, which is under imminent threat from being clear-cut by the Teal-Jones Group. British Columbia’s ancient forests have been completely over logged (only 2% are left intact) by those who never learned how to recognize when they have had enough. It seems that the Teal-Jones family and their shareholders will never be satisfied until the last ancient tree has been felled and the critical ecosystems that once existed in these magnificent forests are completely destroyed. In their world, they will never have Enough.

This quote from the website sums up the danger of the traditional business model, fills me with dread. We can, and must do better. Let’s start with recognizing when we have enough.

“Dick Jones recently remarked, “we’re just getting started!” when a customer paid him a compliment about the steady growth of the company.

I know how lucky I am to be in a place where I actually do have Enough, because not everyone does. What does Enough look like to you? Does it bring you contentment? Do you take time to enjoy what you have? If you have more than you need, and feel so inclined, I would encourage you to donate to some of these environmental groups who are doing such important work protecting the planet for all of us.

Fairy Creek Blockade

Wilderness Committee

Raven Trust

Stand Earth

Please note - I am not opposed to sustainable forestry that provides well-paid jobs, ensuring everyone in this field has Enough. I believe that these jobs can and should exist in an industry that is working collaboratively with First Nations, and no longer decimating our rapidly declining,  irreplaceable ancient forests.

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