Sprout Garden

If you thought having a kitchen garden was only for people with sprawling back gardens – think again. Thanks to the ingenuity of one little girl, sprout gardens can revolutionise how you cook at home. In 1997 Joseph Feigelson, inventor, eco-preneur and horticulturist, returned home to South Africa with his daughters after many years abroad. For a school show and tell his youngest daughter decided to demonstrate sprouts, which, at the time, were new to South Africa. 'Her classmates and teachers were astounded to see edible sprouts growing from seeds in just a jar with only water rinse,' says Feigelson. This simple school demonstration led to to her exhibiting at the school’s science fair where she caught the attention of nutritional scientists from the University of Cape Town. The scientists saw sprouts as an affordable solution to food production within townships and it was this angle that inspired Feigelson to start Kitchen Garden. But Kitchen Garden provides more than just food for poorer communities. It offers households of any income bracket an opportunity to produce sustainable and nutritional food, throughout the year, with only seeds and water – provided there is a bright but not-too-sunny spot in your kitchen. Essentially just a mini indoor food production system, the Kitchen Garden sprout-grower isn't complex. The custom-designed container stand keeps the growing containers organised while providing light and proper drainage. The alignment of each container allows the moisture to be 'trapped' due to the hygroscopic nature of the seeds and the surface of the growing container. This in turn causes the seeds to sprout and grow. Water is introduced into the system by simply rinsing the sprouts two to three times a day to keep them moist. Why sprouts you say? Turns out these small tidbits of flavour add more than just colour to a meal. 'The benefits are readily apparent after two weeks of eating sprouts on a regular basis due to their high content of enzymes, minerals and vitamins,' says Feigelson. 'The enzymes that are present in living foods supplement our own enzyme production, making foods more assimilable and resulting in the body receiving more nutrition. This means you'll experiences more energy and a decreased craving for junk foods.' Unlike traditional gardening, the Kitchen Garden kit requires no mythical green thumb and you won't have to wait weeks for results. With a little care and pleasant light conditions, sprouts grown from seeds in the kit are generally ready to eat in three to five days. There are over 80 varieties of seeds that can be grown into edible sprouts, but Feigelson recommends starting out with alfalfa, mung bean, radish, chickpea and broccoli sprouts which are all excellent varieties for beginners. While each Kitchen Garden kit is equipped with seeds for two crops per jar, a variety of seeds can be purchased from the Kitchen Garden website to top up your kit. Purchasing seeds regularly won't, however, burn a hole in your pocket. 'Since seeds are relatively inexpensive to produce and the resulting sprouts are about eight times the volume of the seeds, the costs to produce kilos of sprouts are on average cents for kilograms,' says Feigelson. 'Depending on the amount of sprouts one consumes, this can result in substantial savings while providing the satisfaction that you are able to do something about food quality, avoid the rising costs of food in general and play a role in urban sustainability.' To find out more about Kitchen Garden, what sprouts you can grow and how the kit works, visit Text: Bianca Packham