NZ start-up empowers Kiwis to grow-their-own vegetables, with seed delivery service and world-first digital tools
Kiwis keen to get their green fingers moving, save money and be more self-sufficient can start their own gardening journey thanks to an innovative seed delivery service and digital growing guide complete with a world-first rewards system.
Topped off with a planting diary and an online marketplace to encourage collaboration and help Kiwis take small steps in their own backyard to reverse climate change, PlantMe.io is one-stop digital platform.
“The idea is to encourage more people to get growing at home as meaningful climate action while also improving nutrition, health and wellness and your bank balance,” says PlantMe founder and CEO Fliss Roberts.
“We’re building crypto rewards that will be a world-first in rewarding individuals for their climate action and bio-diversity restoration, and now we are inviting Kiwis to sign up to the platform and be citizen scientists to help us prove what’s possible and generate the data.”
Wellington-based Fliss first had the idea for PlantMe at the end of 2018 to help individuals, families and the wider community start localising food and to make a collective impact on our bio-diversity and emissions.
With an MBA in Sustainability, Fliss, who heads up Greenback, a female led green-tech start-up supporting collective climate action, got to work on building the PlantMe.io app. With the help of volunteer software developers, many fresh out of university and keen to apply their newly-learned skills to a business with a purpose, Fliss was able to launch PlantMe in 2019.
PlantMe is inviting more Kiwis to sign up to have seeds delivered to their homes on a monthly, or quarterly, basis so they can grow their own fruit and vegetables with confidence. Subscribers are then supported on their gardening journey by digital growing guides, and seed choice is made depending on the recipient’s location to ensure optimal growth can be achieved.
“PlantMe.io makes it so easy to get growing now. In addition to having everything delivered to the door, we’ve got a land-share feature, which is popular for those who have extra space and want to share or rent it with gardeners who might not have their own plot.”
The number of Kiwis building vegetable gardens and taking the leap to grow their own veggies rose quickly during the 2020 lockdown, and recent lockdowns have seen the trend continue. In New Zealand and Australian, sales of vegetable seeds left many seed suppliers overwhelmed with orders 10 times higher than usual during the 2020 Level 4 lockdown in 2020.
A Californian study shows that backyard gardens can reduce State emissions by 7.8%, which is a meaningful statistic when according to the UNEP we must reduce emissions by 7.6% every year for the next decade to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Gardening has also been shown to have huge positive impact on mental and physical health, something we’re all perhaps aware of after periods of ongoing lockdown.
PlantMe is committed to helping make the planet a more sustainable one, so that future generations can enjoy and prosper and live without climate anxiety. PlantMe has just added new features showing each subscriber’s climate impact and dollar savings when they log plants, progress and record harvests with pictures.
Fliss is also focused on supporting sharing economies. Her app encourages its users to look at other ways to share their love for gardening beyond growing their own. From sharing seeds and lovingly raised plants to primo worm castings, or even sharing or renting out a veggie plot, New Zealanders are being encouraged to think differently about the way they grow.
“Having access to affordable, fresh nutrition is becoming so important in our changing climate and has become even more important during the pandemic,” says Fliss.
“One in five New Zealanders often don’t know where their next meal will come from, but it doesn’t need to be that way. We have the ability to feed ourselves and our whānau with minimal effort. Nature is really good at growing, we just need to set her up for success. We want to inspire more people across Aotearoa, and the world, to get growing because once you taste the difference and realise how easy and fun it is, you’ll never look back!”