Changing the world: Gardening genius

2012-09-11 08:45

While most youngsters are worrying about what outfit to wear to the next party, some are figuring out how to make South Africa a better country.

Claire Reed (26) was just 16 when she came up with an idea that helps families in need grow their own food.

In 2002, Reed came up with an innovative way to plant seeds for a school project, she didn’t fully know what she had started.

“My parents suggested I grow a vegetable garden, but there were some things about gardening that I didn’t fully get, so I came up with a way to work around them,” she says.

She invented a seed strip that encases the seeds in organic fertiliser and spaces them at the correct depth and distance apart.

Her now-patented invention later proved to reduce water consumption in the seed germination stage by 80%, and the project earned Claire a number of accolades, including a gold medal at the Eskom Young Scientists Expo and the South African Junior Water Prize.

By 2008, Claire had secured funding to develop her product and in 2010 she launched Reel Gardening.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing something that I developed helping to feed communities. Knowing that it’s making a real difference in people’s lives makes it worthwhile,” she says.

Claire has hired a team of six and is planning to conduct training courses in rural areas.

“I often travel to implement gardens across the country, but I’m now at a stage where I want to train other people to do it. Not only does that create jobs, but it also means that more people can have access to our gardening model, which in turn feeds more people.”

Claire now has a masters degree in architecture and says that design is her true passion.

“I love coming up with ideas and I’m currently working on a new way to build school furniture. Hopefully this idea will also make impactful changes,” she says.

With plans to branch out Reel Gardening in the UK and Australia, Claire says she will eventually get someone else to handle the day-to-day operation of the business.

“I’m the ideas girl and if I can come up with others that will make life easier for everyone, then that’s what I will spend my time doing. Through design and architecture, I’ll keep trying to change the world for the better.”

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