‘Young enterprise’ teens from Sacred Heart of Mary, Upminster, celebrate success of ‘Sow and Grow’ seeds

Year 12 start-up Aurelia with display boards for its Sow and Grow boxes

Year 12 start-up Aurelia with display boards for its Sow and Grow boxes - Credit: Archant

A bunch of green-fingered students from an Upminster school are sowing the seeds of success with a savvy start-up.

Sow and Grow – a product that teaches youngsters where food comes from, promotes healthy eating, brings families together and could put Havering on the world map – sounds almost too good to be true.

But Sacred Heart of Mary’s “Young Enterprise” team is making it a reality – and has already seen the idea bear fruit.

On Wednesday, April 17, the 15 students won a regional heat, beating eight other start-ups from teenagers across Havering and Tower Hamlets.

Sow and Grow is a simple concept – five packets of seeds, with pots, compost and a recipe leaflet.

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But it captured the imaginations of the Young Enterprise judges in central London last week.

At a regional heat, the students saw their product beat eight other start-ups created by young people from Havering and Tower Hamlets.

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The teens’ company – Aurelia – is now through to the east London heat on May 2. If they win, they could go all the way to the international finals.

Team member Kirsty Adams said it was natural the group had come up with a green idea.

“Healthy eating and sustainable living are hot topics at the moment,” said the 17-year-old, of Hornchurch, who hopes to study primary teaching at university.

“We wanted to teaching young children about where food comes from.

“The idea is that children grow the plants and their parents cook them – so it brings them together.”

For £6, anyone who buys Sow and Grow gets three types of vegetables and two types of herbs. The recipes are tailored to what’s in the box and range from casseroles to desserts.

The contents change with the season, too – at the moment the box contains carrot, lettuce, shallot, coriander and basil seeds, with recipes for carrot cake and soup.

Like her teammates, Kirsty is juggling her work in Aurelia – the company name they’ve chosen – with her A level studies.

“We’re doing it in our own time,” she told the Recorder. “It’s a little bit of a gamble because we’ve sold shares in it to family and friends, as well as buying into it ourselves.

“But we thought it would be a good experience to come up with ideas and work as a team – it’s good to put on applications to university.

“It’s good to get a feel of working on your own and dealing with the finances.”

To get through to the east London final, which happens on May 2, Aurelia had to do a Dragons’ Den-style presentation at the Google headquarters in central London – and that was a steep learning curve, too.

“We hadn’t had any experience of presenting to judges before,” recalled Kirsty. “We were out on our own.”

But they thrived on the challenge – and as well as selling their idea to judges, they’ve been talking to farm shops about selling Sow and Grow across London and Essex.

The kits, which have already been on sale at Spitalfields and Greenwich markets as well as school fetes, are proving popular with customers.

“Everyone seems happy with it,” said proud Kirsty. “They say all the seeds are germinating now.”

She added the group wanted to thank supervising teacher Miss Todd and business adviser Ross Kynvin.

For more information, visit sowandgrow.webs.com or e-mail sowandgrow@live.co.uk.

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