Faced with a food shortage during World War II, Americans installed gardens in their backyards to produce their own food. Called “Victory Gardens,” the trend took off—and by 1944, Victory Gardens produced an amazing 40 percent of all vegetables in the United States in more than 20 million backyards, window boxes, school grounds, and rooftops.
Almost 70 years later, the United Nations came out with a report stating small-scale, organic farms are the only way to feed the swelling population on this planet. And today, a GardenResearch gardening industry survey claims 1 in 3 American households grow something of their own at home—whether kitchen herbs or backyard tomatoes. As Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) reports, sales related to growing your own food has jumped by $1 in the last five years.
With clear evidence for the ability of small farms and gardens to feed the world, it’s no wonder Cameron MacKugler, a LEED project manager at an architecture firm, took an idea for the “Seedsheet” home-growing system from idea to Kickstarter to Shark Tank, where in April he accepted a $500,000 offer of investment to get his startup rolling.
MacKugler, a Vermont native, told SCPR his inspiration came from the state’s short growing season and need to maximize productivity with what time there is. While house-sitting on a co-worker's farm in 2012, he was admiring the complementary way plants were arranged to grow when the idea came to him for a system he calls “the Blue Apron of agriculture.”
To plant a Seedsheet, you simply place it on top of a container of soil, secure it with stakes (provided with the order), and add water. The product is perfect for city dwellers on account of its ability to occupy a very small space—making the fact 100 percent of its clientele comes from metropolises hardly surprising.
Seedsheet is focused on fast-growing, hardy varietals that will make everyone feel like they have a green thumb, from Glacier tomatoes to Valentine’s Day radishes. The sheets can fit in containers on a windowsill, rooftop, or back deck—just like a Victory Garden.
Seedsheet takes things a step further, by focusing on recipes. The Grow Your Own Tacos Seedsheet, for example, includes cilantro, arugula, scallions. The Valentine’s Day includes icicle, purple plum radish, and ruby streaks, and grows around $54 worth of produce. The Grow Your Own Cocktails Seedsheet comes with lemon balm, borage, purple basil, herb celery, pea shoots, tulsi, bronze fennel, and Thai basil—and grows more than $100 worth of produce.
Starting at $14.99, that seems like a bit of a victory in and of itself, no? According to its website, Seedsheet is planning to reintroduce large-scale sheets for bigger gardens sometime in the future. "Most people here in Vermont think we're crazy,” MacKugler told SCPR, “but that's because they've been raised as gardeners and don't see the need for this kind of product."