Garden in Box

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Garden in Box

Johannesburg, South Africa
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Reel Gardening seed tape anchors seed at the correct depth and distance apart and saves 80% water. The Garden in a Box simplifies gardening knowledge such as companion planting, crop rotation into a 100m2 garden packed for the region and month of planting, to provide a balance of nutrients.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is much complicated knowledge associated with gardening that can be overwhelming and discourage people from growing their own food. This combined with limited water, and depleted soil fertility, gives people an experience that 'they can't' grow their own food and be in control of their own food security. Inaccessibility of vegetables mean that people often go without vegetables to give them the range of vitamins and minerals they require.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Reel Gardening seed tape encases open pollinated seed and organic fertilizer at the correct distance apart. When planted the seed tape anchors the seed at the correct depth in the soil. The Garden in a Box module contains 100m2 of a variety of vegetables packed for the region and month of planting, with an easy to follow diagram that incorporates companion planting and staggered planting principles. People merely make a furrow in the ground, roll out, add a little water and learn while they grow. This solves the problem of lack of knowledge, increases soil fertility and saves up to 80% water during the germination phase. This coupled with practical training and support sessions is designed to create the "I can" experience while growing.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Reel Gardening (RG) recently worked with the Lonely Road foundation to roll out the Garden in a Box (GIB) module at 15 Drop-In centres in the Limpopo province. Drop-In centers provide support for vulnerable children and children from orphan headed households who can 'drop-in' receive a meal, homework help and mentoring. Each center planted 100m2 for four months and received training and support to ensure a sustainable garden. The care-givers were excited with the success of their gardens, the size of the crops they were able to grow. It resulted in a reduction of their grocery bill and provided an additional income through the sale of surplus vegetables to community members. OVCs have been provided with nutritious organic food.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

One GIB plants 100m2 of seasonal vegetables, which will produce 412 kg of vegetables, which will provide 5493 daily servings of vegetables or provide 22 people with 100% RDA of vegetables and legumes over the harvesting period (on conservative estimates). A GIB costs $217, each vegetable serving thus costs $0.01. The Lonely Road project described above saw 45 Garden in a Box modules being planted resulting in about 233650 meals. Many centers gave away and sold excess produce (without keeping a log). This makes our estimates roughly inline with actual impact, and demonstrates the need for financial literacy training to ensure that people manage their garden effectively. Since 2010 we have planted over 400 GIB modules. 2010 was a steep learning curve which helped us understand critical success factors, which we have applied resulting in a current success rate of 80%, and is improving.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

RG sells the GIB module, and uses donor funding to roll out the GIB module in targeted areas. We have developed an entrepreneurial model around the GIB that enables people to purchase, grow, make a profit and re-purchase the GIB. This coupled with Train the Trainer sessions ensures that many community micro-businesses can be established (selling, growing or training people how to use GIB). This model ensures the financial sustainability of RG.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Food Security organisations in RSA have a heavy emphasis on Permaculture training. This can often be overwhelming for people as it involves a high volume of prior learning, which takes up time. Practicing what they have learned also requires copious amounts of time. This is impractical for many people (like school teachers and care-givers) who don't have time to become experts, but also want access to nutritious veg. RG helps people to grow immediately, learn while doing, and saves time and water. People can choose to continue using RG or if they have time learn further.

Founding Story

At 16, Claire Reid, was sitting in her soon-to-be vegetable patch frustrated that she couldn't get the seeds to stay at the correct depth and distance apart. She asked the housekeeper, Meggi, to help her plant her garden. Meggi agreed to help by passing Claire the seeds, but through the process Claire realized that Meggi could not understand the instructions on the back of the packet. Meggi had tried to plant a garden before, but lack of knowledge and water prevented her success. The whole process made her feel stupid. Claire decided to come up with a solution to solve her and Meggi's problem, a problem faced by all people regardless of age or income level. This solution is the Reel Gardening seed strip and the Garden in a Box.


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