Planting a garden can be daunting for first-time urban farmers, but a new startup wants to make the process as simple–and fast–as making your bed.
A software program helps virtually plot out each plant, and then the startup ships a customized “Seedsheet” filled with seeds in exactly the right locations. All someone has to do is set the sheet down and water it.
“The conventional methods of planning and planting a garden are antiquated and devoid of innovation, and do a great job at scaring away potential gardeners,” says Cam MacKugler, founder of the company Cloudfarm. “Sowing seeds is usually a 2 to 5 hour job spent on your knees, bending over with a ruler, and quickly becoming infuriated with small, nearly invisible seeds.”
As the garden grows, the new Seedsheet also takes care of most weeding, since the sheet is made from a weed-blocking fabric. The sheet also helps save water, stabilizes the soil to prevent erosion, and warms up the ground for early planting in the spring. After one growing season is over, it can be reused with new seeds, or composted.
All of the seeds are organic and non-GMO, and intended for people who want to know exactly what they are eating. “For people who want the most local, organic, delicious and nutritious produce possible, the solution is simple–grow it yourself,” says MacKugler. “By simplifying that process to the click of a mouse and unfolding of a sheet, we hope to be the catalyst to convert Whole Foods shoppers into apartment and rooftop farmers.”
This past summer, the startup tested a prototype of the system with both experienced and inexperienced gardeners across the country. “My favorite response was from an urban tester, who commented that her roommates said, ‘I didn’t even know you could grow food in Boston,'” MacKugler says.
The startup hopes to bring gardening to people who may not have considered it before. “Gardening has the stigma of being a challenging, time consuming, dirt-under-the-nails process,” MacKugler says. “By creating a product that removes that perception, we will provide the catalyst for people to grow their own food and eat healthier meals.”
The Seedsheet launched on Kickstarter today. For each product sold, the startup will donate another to a school through a partnership with the National Gardening Association and Kidgardening.org.