In 2002, at the age of 16, Claire Reid found herself sitting in her vegetable garden with a tape measure between her knees and centimeter marks drawn on her fingers. She knew that she wanted to grow vegetables to sell to her parents for extra pocket money. However she soon became frustrated by the wastage of seed and fertiliser and her inability to get the seed to stay in the soil at the correct depth and distance apart.
She asked her nanny, Meggi, to help her with this overwhelming task by holding the seed packet and passing her the seeds while explaining the instructions on the back of the packaging. Meggi was unable to instruct Claire on how to plant the seed as the instructions were only in English and contained mathematical language that Meggi was not able to understand. It was at this point that Claire decided she needed to create a way to both plant and keep the seeds and nutrients in the soil at the correct depth and distance apart, a form of planting that needed no mathematical or English education to understand, a form of planting that was simple, effective and easy to do in a short period of time. And Reel Gardening was the solution.
Claire began to make seed strips with newspaper and encased the seed using a paste made from flour and liquid fertiliser. This craft type project was entered into the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists in 2002 to gain some extra marks for Grade 10 Science. The public response to the simple idea was overwhelming and Ronnie Kasrils, the then Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, requested information on the water saving abilities of this new form of planting. Claire conducted tests with the help of the University of Pretoria and was able to conclude that Reel Gardening was able to save up to 80% of the water consumed during the germination phase. Subsequently she went on to win the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize for South Africa. A number of awards followed, including Woman in Water for Scientific Research below the age of 35 and The United Nations Environmental SEED award.
Reel Gardening is designed to be handmade by previously unemployed mothers so we are able to make positive social impact not only through the use of our product but also through the creation of it. Once these simple hand powered machines were created Reel Gardening opened its doors for business on the 12th February 2010 and sells its products both locally and internationally. We have a strong focus on giving back and consider ourselves a Social Enterprise.
Reel Gardening is passionate about kick starting a Planting Revolution with a focus on getting people grounded.