The Unexpected Tale of Two Companies

The Unexpected Tale of Two Companies

In this blog, Harvst ambassador Veggie Gardener Matt explains how he uses his mini greenhouse in an unexpected way…

As my gardening has improved over time, I’ve made it my priority to really enhance what I love doing by taking my gardening one step further. I knew that when the 2021 gardening season started I wanted to achieve two things:

  1. Become a Brand Ambassador for a company that aligned with my gardening goals
  2. Work with a local restaurant to gain experience as a kitchen gardener

As a lover of growing produce (and now flowers this year), I took a chance in late 2020 by reaching out to local restaurant that I really loved (The Packhorse Inn in Moulton, UK) and asked if I could work with their Head Chef and supply some of my produce. Whilst I wasn’t going to be able to grow enough to supply their entire restaurant, I wanted professional experience as a stepping stone towards my dream of being a full-time kitchen gardener. Whether it’s installing and maintaining a garden on-site for businesses or restaurants, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised when the Head Chef reached out to me and we struck up with a deal!

After several months of regular communication with the Head Chef, I’ve been helping with supplying some of the produce for the restaurant including (all donated):

  • 5 trays of pea shoots
  • 2 trays of watercress
  • 2 small containers of nasturtiums
  • 1 tray of rocket
  • 1 small container of thyme

The exciting thing about this is that there’s still so much more to come and it’s been an absolute delight helping the restaurant. Pictured on the left is me delivering my first harvest to the restaurant (ignore the pandemic haircut).

The most exciting thing about all of this though is the unexpected partnership that has resulted in this. What you’re seeing here hasn’t been grown in my house, greenhouse, or outside. So, how exactly?

Rewind to around the same time last year, I was keeping my eyes open for companies which aligned with my sustainability goals. Whilst I wasn’t holding my breath nor in dire need of finding the right company immediately, I knew that a solution would present itself eventually; I knew that I needed to be patient. Well, I’m glad that I was.

If you haven’t had the chance to read my Data Harvest blog, I talk about my method of measuring and analysing all of my harvests for 2020. In short, I was able to save £450 in my own backyard which I’m very proud of and this year I hope to surpass that goal. After I posted about this on Instagram, I was unexpectedly contacted by Rik Sellwood from Harvst. He mentioned how impressed he was with how I measured data and how modelling this information helped me to significantly improve my gardening over time.

After looking up who this company was, I suddenly found myself drawn into what they stood for: sustainability, automation, and data tracking (to name a few). So, after watching their videos and doing plenty of reading on their website, I decided to jump on a quick call with Rik. We discussed my data post, what Harvst’s mission was, and how both of us aligned in many ways. It’s almost as if my patience in waiting for the right company to come along worked. However, the real question was whether they had a Brand Ambassador program.

Fast forward to March 2021 and I can proudly say that I’m a Brand Ambassador for a company which aligns with my goals. You might be asking yourself though: how does this all tie into my post with the restaurant above?

Pictured to the right, you can see the Harvst mini-greenhouse system with the crops I’ve managed to donate to the restaurant so far. In fact, I fully plan on using the system to supply the restaurant which is excellent since not only can I track the data for future work with the Packhorse Inn, but I can now better understand how long it takes for these harvests to come to fruition.

If there’s one thing that is tricky when it comes to kitchen gardening and planning with chefs, it’s getting harvest times correct. Chefs need to not only know when produce is ready for use, they need to know x days/weeks in advance what the produce is, how it ties into the restaurant’s seasonal menu, and whether or not the item will be marketable on the menu.

So here I have an unexpected and symbiotic partnership between two companies that didn’t know each other prior to today and, quite frankly, I feel incredibly proud to be able to facilitate the relationship between each other. With the Harvst’s extremely low power usage and the lowered food miles produced for the restaurant, it feels like what I’m doing is truly making a difference. It might be a small one and it might be a while until I see change, but I stand by what I’m doing.

On a final note, you might be thinking to yourself what exactly the ‘difference’ is that I’m making with this. Well, consider these points below:

  • Harvst’s system captures rainwater which reduces my dependency on mains water which lowers costs to our household.
  • Higher savings from water consumption means more gardening supplies can be bought to supply bigger harvests.
  • Transporting these harvests only 1.7 miles reduces carbon emissions when compared to the normal location the restaurant is getting their supply from.
  • Whilst the harvests are quite small in the grand scheme of things, the surplus from the harvests will result in the restaurant needing to order less from companies which saves on costs and carbon emissions.
  • Less costs for restaurants over time can equal a multitude of different opportunities for enhancements for the establishment itself.
  • Less carbon emissions means slowing down global warming whilst concurrently increasing biodiversity.
  • Increased biodiversity results in better harvests due to larger numbers of pollinators and beneficial insects.
  • And the cycle of life continues over and over.

Stayed tuned as my journey continues this year as I work with the Packhorse Inn and Harvst. Many more exciting harvests are on their way including a homegrown flower arrangement for the restaurant!