THE REEL DEAL!
Reel Gardening initiative is saving water
Reel Gardening is a biodegradable colour-coded paper tape that encases organic fertiliser and seeds at the correct depth and distance apart. It takes five minutes to plant, and uses 80% less water. Since inception, approximately 500,000 meters of the product has been distributed, which is making a real impact on communities in South Africa.
“We became aware of the company over year ago and thought it was a good fit with our Rajah Curry Powder brand, one of the most popular products used in stews and curries in South Africa,” says Deeolan Govender, Marketing Manager: Robertsons & Rajah. “Lack of access to water in this country is one of the main reasons why people are reluctant to grow their own vegetables. The water saving benefits of Reel Gardening seed strips are considerable, and therefore fits perfectly with Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.”
What is most impressive about this story: This phenomenal and utterly unique product was invented by a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Claire Reid in 2002. Claire was encouraged by her teachers to enter her invention into the Eskom expo for young scientists where she won a gold medal. Soon after, at the request of the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, she began conducting tests into how much water this method of germination saved.
“When I first invented the product, water saving was not front of mind,” admits Claire, “I didn’t think further than the tap.” It was only when her family’s domestic worker, Meggie Masilo, began taking the strips home to Rustenburg that Claire became curious.
The University of Limpopo is currently running another set of tests on the strips to determine how the produce of the seed strips affects nutritional content; to check the rate of water saving (it is now thought to be higher than 80%); and the standard germination rate.
Govender says a pilot was conducted in 2013 and that plans for 2014 included educating pupils at schools to guide their parents in growing produce from the strips, using a stokvel system to develop entrepreneurial skills, and educating clinics – a key venue for discussions around nutrition.
“We are working with a partner, Minanawe Marketing, an organisation that has a footprint with NGOs, schools and the Department of Education to roll this out,” he said.
We believe it is individuals like Claire, whose actions to make the world a better place has the potential to inspire millions to follow suit. After all, changing the world starts with us all.