The seeds to food-growing success

SMARTGROWERS: TIMING IS everything in business and brother and sister Helen Burke and Keith McEvoy may well have caught the …

SMARTGROWERS:TIMING IS everything in business and brother and sister Helen Burke and Keith McEvoy may well have caught the mood of the moment with their newly launched Smartgrowers 1-2-3 vegetable growing system. With everyone tightening their belts there has been an upsurge in interest in growing food. Smartgrowers has come up with a kit that aims to make this as easy as possible for anyone wanting to give it a go on a small scale.

The €99 starter kit includes everything required from a quick- assembly 1m x 1m raised bed to seeds, organic pest control, weed block membrane and 12 months’ video and e-mail instructions. All the grower has to supply is a bag of compost. The organic seed varieties provided include spring onions, carrots and mixed lettuce. Smartgrowers are so confident that their system is foolproof that if someone fails to grow their vegetables successfully first time around, they will provide free seeds and support until they do. They also recognise that not everyone has hours to spend gardening so the system requires minimal maintenance.

Because the bed is compact it is suitable for use on small patios or balconies and the company has chosen robust varieties of seeds that are pest resistant. The main sales channel will be online, although the product is currently being test marketed in a number of retail outlets.

The McEvoys’ grandfather had a vegetable farm and they grew up helping out. Keith trained as an engineer while Helen is a scientist who gave up her job in the optical sensors laboratory at DCU to work full-time on Smartgrowers. The business has been founder-funded and it has taken roughly two years to take it from a bright idea to a tried-and-tested product.


Those who buy the kit are encouraged to keep in touch with Smartgrowers by e-mail and can ask as many questions as they like to ensure success with the system. “We realise that we’re going to get a percentage of people who will not do what’s required and will be back to us for free seeds but in our experience so far those who have bought the product really want to make it work,” says Helen Burke.