A Gardening Kit For Turning City Kids Into Green Thumbs

UK designer Edward Barber proposes a home vegetable-growing kit with a twist.

Nearly 14 million people in America don’t have access to large grocery stores that stock fresh fruit and vegetables. More than 80% of them live in urban areas. And while it’d be nice for produce shops to spring up in these so-called food deserts, fact is, companies don’t see poor neighborhoods as a worthwhile investment.


Peat includes a home-mailing program that sends kids seasonal seeds.

Peat, by Nottingham Trent University product design student Edward Barber (not that Edward Barber) offers a small, but spirited, alternative: a gardening kit for children and their families to raise vegetables indoors. Like a lot of gardening kits, Peat comes with tools and a greenhouse that’s small enough to fit on an apartment windowsill. Unlike a lot of gardening kits, Peat also includes a home-mailing program that sends kids seasonal seeds and activity booklets, with easy-peasy instructions and cute names like “Carl the Carrot” and “Lucy the Lettuce.”

It’s a perceptive touch: You have to assume that a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to fresh produce doesn’t have a glut of gardening shops, either. So instead of making parents run out and try to find squash seeds in the winter and cucumbers in the summer, everything you need to grow your own food year-round comes to you. “The product hopes to remove preconceptions towards growing vegetables, making it fun and engaging,” Barber says.

Obviously, the snail-mail program doesn’t guarantee that children will actually use Peat. (I remember my own attempt to grow herbs, using a kit, when I was 5 or so: I killed every shoot of parsley in sight, so I gave up and went back to my Barbies.) But it certainly adds a blast of motivation that you don’t see in most kids? home-gardening sets. “At the moment Peat is just a prototype so it’s not for sale,” Barber tells Co.Design in an email, “however it did receive some interest from people who could invest, so possibly in the near future it may be manufactured.” Here’s a tip: Kickstarter!

[Images courtesy of Edward Barber]


About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.