Local farm creates compostable zero-waste gardening kits, making produce growing accessible to all
In 2019, Jessica Pfisterer was looking for an easy way to grow vegetables for personal use. Knowing that her family would be moving later that year to their ‘forever’ farm, Jessica did not want to spend time growing a garden that would just be left behind. While searching for an alternative option, she found out that it was possible to grow vegetables in bales of straw. Jessica realized that straw bale gardening was an amazing way to grow produce without the challenges of maintaining a traditional garden plot. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she noticed an increased interest in all things local, and a surge of people living in cities who were looking to take up gardening. Hoping to make vegetable growing accessible to the masses, Jessica came up with the idea to create a complete outdoor gardening kit. With the support of the Seeding Our Food Future (SOFF) program, her idea became a reality and vegetaBALES was officially launched in the fall of 2020 as a proud offering of The Pfisterer Farm.
While she was still looking for a way to make her project come to life, Jessica saw that her goals for vegetaBALES were well in line with those of the SOFF program and Our Food Future. She is now able to increase access to nutritious food in her community and beyond, creating the opportunity for people to grow a variety of vegetables anywhere with sunshine, including decks, patios, balconies, and lawns. This product does not require any tools or weeding and uses the method of hydroponics- or growing without soil. Instead of using soil, vegetaBALES uses straw as it has a great ability to retain moisture. All someone needs to do is plant the seeds in the straw bale then provide it with water and sun. Tomatoes, cucumbers, radish, and lettuce are included in the many vegetables that can be grown using this method. The kits come with a planting guide and complete instructions with plant profiles and tips to ensure vegetaBALES is a success, so even people with no planting experience can use them.
The vegetaBALES gardening kits are available in two sizes: the small comes with one growing container (2ft by 3ft) while the large comes with three growing containers. Not only do these kits come in 100% compostable packaging, but they are also 100% local. The straw is baled right on the Pfisterer Farm, the seeds are from Ontario Seed Company in Waterloo, and the tomato plants are from a local nursery. As part of her SOFF project, Jessica aims to continue engaging in collaborations as she sees significant opportunities for vegetaBALES to be incorporated into community gardens and Business Improvement Area projects.
For Jessica, having a mindset geared towards circularity means always asking the question, “How can we achieve the most fulfilling processes around the farm?” She explains that it can be as simple as working their fields to feed the cattle, who in turn fertilize the land with their manure. On a larger scale, the Pfisterer Farm plans to further support their broader community through initiatives and innovative products. With vegetaBALES, they hope to connect people to where and how their food is grown and provide them with the opportunity to understand what goes into growing their produce. By inspiring community connections and offering an accessible way to grow food with their vegetaBALES product, the Pfisterer Farm is contributing to the creation of a sustainable and thriving food economy.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Pfisterer from vegetaBALES.