Self-Watering Microgreen Kit: Plastic Free and Zero Waste
Easy countertop greens! Everyone can grow a little food and reduce a little waste.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sun, December 23 2018 7:59 AM UTC +00:00.
(Delivery available in time for Christmas! See rewards sidebar.)
The perfect introduction to growing your own food
You'll get your first crop of fresh baby greens about 2 weeks after you sow the seeds!
The Self-Watering Microgreen Kit makes it easy for you to grow your own microgreens using a handcrafted product you can feel good about.
What's in the Kit?
The kit contains everything you need to grow microgreens:
1. A self-watering terracotta pot, handmade to last a lifetime in our Oakland California studio.
2. Seeds: Open pollinated seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Company, in 4 different varieties.
3. Organic soil, enough for 4 crops of microgreens
4. Illustrated instructions for:
- growing microgreens
- starting tomatoes
- rooting herbs and succulents
- saving seeds.
And when you’re done, you’ll be left with zero waste (all packaging is compostable or recyclable) and a planter that you can reuse over and over.
What Else Can I Do With My Planter?
Use the planter for lots of other projects too: rooting succulents and herbs, and starting your veggie seeds in the spring.
Glaze Color Choices
We've spent the last 2 years fine-tuning our eco-friendly non-toxic glazes, and are happy to announce three new colors, all named after natural phenomena near our studio here in Oakland. Bat Ray, a dark bluish slate, is named for the fish that lives in the Oakland Estuary; Fog for our most common weather; and Stinson for a lovely beach nearby. All these glazes are formulated to allow us to fire the pots only once, saving half the energy used in making most pottery.
When I launched my first Kickstarter project 5 years ago, I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. Before the project went live, I had 2 manufacturers lined up to fulfill the rewards. In case something went wrong with one, I’d still have the other one, I reasoned. But they both backed out after the project was funded, leaving me with the choice to either disappoint my backers or make the pots myself.
I made each of those pots in my driveway (which was inconvenient when it rained). I took a break when my daughter was born, but came back to work, this time in a proper studio, and with my first employee we fulfilled all the rewards. I am forever grateful for everyone’s patience and support through that learning curve.
The risks are much lower this time. We’re now a team of 5 skilled artisans who know how to make Orta’s unusual slip cast forms. Here are a few of the things we can do reliably now that I didn’t even know I needed to know 5 years ago:
- We make all our own clay from raw materials, from a recipe I developed over 6 months of experiments. I did this to increase consistency (store-bought casting slip is quite unreliable, I learned the hard way) and to eliminate the toxic barium that is in most casting slips.
- I spent 2 years developing glaze recipes that are durable, don’t crackle (which can cause leaks), are non-toxic, and allow us to fire the pots only once, saving half the energy compared to most pottery.
- Because we have several years of data now, we can predict fairly accurately how long it will take us to make things, which means you'll get your rewards on time!
The small microgreen planter is in production now, and we have working prototypes of the large planter. In order to produce the large planter at scale, we need to re-carve the original, create a master mold, block-and-case molds (molds for each mold part), and 10 working production molds.
I've also learned a LOT about communication, updating people, and setting realistic expectations.
Small planter dimensions: 5" x 5" x 3" (12.7 cm x 12.7 cm x 7.6 cm). Made from terracotta clay and ceramic glaze.
Large planter dimensions: 10" x 5" x 3" (25.4 cm x 12.7 cm x 7.6 cm). Made from terracotta clay and ceramic glaze.
Because we have to re-carve the original of the large planter by hand to make the production molds, the finished version will be a bit different from the prototypes. The dimensions and overall architecture will stay the same. The biggest change will be that we'll curve the edges a bit more like the small model. We found in testing that the curvier edges came out of the molds and held glaze better than the sharper corners. And they look really nice!
Not all our pots come out perfectly. Everything we do is handmade, and sometimes pots come out a little extra handmade. Factory seconds pots that still work perfectly, but have cosmetic flaws. The most typical flaws are: glaze smudges, holes that aren't perfectly round, and overall asymmetry of the pot. So if you're ok with irregularity, you can save a bit by choosing these rewards.
Risks and challenges
While the risks are lower this time, there is always uncertainty. If anything, I appreciate the challenges much more now that I have been making slip-cast pottery for 5 years.
The biggest risks are the factors we do not control. Because we buy raw materials for the pottery, as well as seeds, soil, and packaging, any interruption or delay from those vendors can cause delay for us. We have established relationships with all of the vendors, and plan to make all our purchases well ahead of time in order to have extra time to find new vendors if necessary.
In house, our biggest risk is that the new large planter is a shape we've only made in small batches. As we scale up, we anticipate tinkering with our processes for about a month to increase yields before we're up to full capacity. We won't know exactly what the challenges are, and what fixes will be needed until we start production. But because we've made many similar forms, I'm confident that we'll figure it out. And we'll keep you updated along the way!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!