Making it – The Reel Way

Claire Reid knew from a young age what she wanted to do. She wanted to sell vegetables to her parents for extra pocket money.

 She soon discovered the frustration and difficulties involved in ensuring the seeds stay in the soil at the correct depth and distance apart. Her nanny, Meggi was unable to assist as the instructions on the packet of seeds contained mathematical language and were only in English.

She realized the need of creating a way of planting without needing to understand the maths involved or command English. This would have to be a simple efficient way to plant and keep the seeds and nutrients in the soil at the correct depth and distance apart in a short period of time. This was the making of Reel Gardening.

Today Reel Gardening, a social Enterprise, sells its products both locally and internationally. They believe in giving back.  Products are handmade by previously unemployed mothers.  Various projects such as Learn and Grow Kit have been developed as well as collaborations formed such as with the Girl Scouts of the USA. A garden in the box has been created, with three different options. Every box sold enables Reel Gardening to donate a seed tape, essentially a garden, a gift of growing, health and connecting to the earth and fresh food. This is how she got there.

Claire started to make seed strips with newspaper and encased the seed using a paste made from flour and liquid fertiliser. This project was entered into the Eskom Expo for young Scientists. The response was overwhelming, so much so that the then Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, requested information on the water saving availabilities. Claire together with the University of Pretoria conducted tests, showing an 80% saving during the germination phase.

The International Stockholm Junior Water Prize for South Africa followed. Today this simple no fuss approach has become the Reel Gardening strips. The patented biodegradable paper already anchors the seeds and nutrients at the correct depth and distance apart. The biodegradable tape slowly decomposes adding extra organic matter to the soil. To plant place the paper vertically in the soil with the coloured portion visible above the soil the plants emerge correctly spaced differentiated from weeds. This offers a variety of benefits making it more successful than traditional seed.

It contains top quality natural seed, saves up to 80% water and birds and pests can’t get to seed. It’s not only time saving, but fun and encourages children to get involved.  As the products are handmade, it creates employment and subsequently empowerment. Kits are made in a traditional South African fabric called ShweShwe. This fabric is usually reserved to make dresses and headwear for special occasions. Reel Gardening believe that starting a food garden aids sustainability in view of our current food crises. Thus the simple pleasure of your own growing garden is a special occasion.

Reel Gardening has grown from humble beginnings to numerous projects, with the common thread of giving the gift of growing to those in need; whilst imprinting their food philosophy regarding food security and nutrition.  This is done through their buy one; give one to community in need concept.

Reel Gardening partners with various NGO’s to make the donations possible. In addition to this Reel Life, a NPC aligned to Reel Gardening focuses on implementation of sustainable community garden projects. There is a need for community development initiatives. Reel life combines business skills with content on vegetable gardening, chicken farming, preservation, storage  and adding value to your produce to enable small enterprises to be formed

Projects include the Learn and Grow kit, each kit creates an outdoor classroom utilising the garden as a teaching tool. Groweez – no-mess, no-fuss, fun way to teach children how veggies and herbs are grown. There are12 vegetable and herb characters. It contains everything you need to grow veggies and herbs right on your windowsill. Just add water. Children can watch their food grow from seed to germination and right through to harvesting them.  

The illustrations tell you what to do and which plant to plant with another. Autumn Planting: Leti the Lettuce, Paco the Pea, Chaz the Cabbage, Bongi the Beetroot, Sami the Spinach, Olli the Onion, Ruff the Rocket. Spring and Summer Planting: Toni the tomato, Babs the Basil, Bert the bean, Beni the Butternut. Each one comes with its interests and nutritional info stated. This installs a systemic behaviour change, getting the children to understand, enjoy and most of all involved in growing their own garden. Garden in a Box contains 5 different vegetables and/or herbs packed to suit area and time of planting. I In addition to this it include companion planting flowers for natural pest control.

In today’s fast-paced society, obsessed with instant gratification and a lost connection to where food comes from these urban planting kits with a free app is the perfect solution. It is available for free download on any device and all products are linked into the Planting Revolution App. It guides you through entire process, from planting right through to harvesting and troubleshooting for problems in your vegetable garden and organic pest control. There is a weekly animated video that simply explains what is needed by your plants that week. It teaches you how to care for your specific plant each day and it even reminds you to water. View The Planting Revolution App here: http//

Testament to all the hard work from Claire and the team are the various awards received. To name but a few: Woman in Water for Scientific Research and The United Nations Environmental SEED award.  Proof that they are growing from strength to strength is Claire being named Global Agriprenuer of the Year at the Future Agro Challenge Global Championships 2017.

 Reel Gardening is looking at the bigger picture and providing a solution with what nature has to offer. Let’s join them and remember what Khalil Gibran said; forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. 

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Hello I'm Bernadette Erasmus from Cape Town South Africa.  I have a blog called Kaleidoscope, please do have a look.

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