Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

Growing a community – the nourishing business of Seed Pantry

In these busy urban times, it can be easy to forget about where your food comes from. That’s where Seed Pantry comes into the picture. Established in 2009, it provides everything you need to get your own gardening adventure off the ground, no matter where you are living. From starting out themselves as novice growers, the people at Seed Pantry have brought their passion for gardening to a wider audience.

How do they give back?

Seed Pantry is brilliant because it gives back in several ways. Its drive for sustainability is one example. All the materials, packaging and products are recyclable or recycled, bio-degradable, or something for keeps (such as gardening tools). The company sells inventions such as starter growing packs with pots made out of coconut and rice husks, which can then be turned into compost rather than clogging up your greenhouse with empty plastic pots.

But the really important stuff is in the company’s interaction with the community, particularly in inner-city areas. We’ve all heard about city kids who think milk comes in bottles or don’t recognise a blackberry, or people who don’t have ready access to fresh, homegrown food thanks to space limitations. Seed Pantry encourages people to get involved with growing their own fruit and vegetables, and recently has given its support to a proposal by the New Economics Foundation that calls for a 4-day workweek, with the fifth day being dedicated to gardening and growing food – lessening the economic burden of raising food prices, and giving people  not only access to their own fruit and vegetables but to the stress-relieving properties of the great outdoors. It recognises the benefit this would have not just on individuals, but in the community – disused bits of inner-city waste land could find new leases of life as flourishing community allotments, with people gardening together and connecting.

Another one of Seed Pantry’s recent schemes is run in conjunction with supermarket Waitrose – they’ve launched a campaign that aims to inspire over 100,000 children aged seven to 11 nationwide to get involved with growing their own fruit and veg. Seed Pantry has provided free ‘Grow and Sell’ seed kits for the children, and when the seed have flourished the children will be invited to sell their produce outside their local Waitrose store. A great way to get children gardening, but also to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit! It’s even backed by everyone’s favourite gardener, Alan Titchmarsh.

What next?

The next step is to roll out the partnership with Waitrose nationwide to get as many children involved as possible, and to keep providing people with a wide range of easy-to-grow fruit and vegetables. Judging by their backing of the NEF’s ambitious four-day workweek programme, Seed Pantry is not afraid to put their back into it and fight for its beliefs – sustainable and nutritious food for all!

Tips on balancing business and connecting with your community
  • As a local business, you’re ideally placed to bring your community together – you’ve got resources and a customer base. Think how you could do this in an interesting way: maybe a free food-tasting evening for people to network and meet their neighbours, or getting involved with a local school? Whether you’re giving a donation, a gift, or providing a service, it all gives back.
  • Think about a way your business is inefficient or wasting a resource, and think of a way you could turn this into an advantage. For example, if you’re throwing away too many meals from your restaurant, try giving them to a local homeless shelter.