We catch up with Ana and Emily from Seedball to hear about their passion for helping pollinators. Read on to find out how their simple products can help us make a positive difference and enjoy the wonders of a wildflower garden.
Give Bees A Chance
Conservation is the heart and soul of this little company with dreams to fund their own Seedball wildflower reserves in the future but how did it all come about for these two mums? It started with a simple question – How to feed the bees?
Conservation scientists, Ana and Emily started looking into easier ways to grow wild flowers to help feed the pollinator populations whilst they were both studying PhD’s in conservation at Aberdeen University.
They discovered the work of natural farming innovator, Masanobu Fukuoka. Fukuoka strongly promoted using seed balls for sowing crops in desert areas with unpredictable rainfall – the clay balls prevented the seeds from being eaten until the rains arrive and seed germination starts.
Ana and Emily had been rather unsuccessfully trying to grow wildflowers from seed and realised they could apply the same concept to wildflower seeds, helping to protect the seeds from predators and give them a head start in germination. They spent the next two years testing and developing the successful Seedball recipe that is used today!
By 2012, after achieving their PhDs, Emily and Ana were hand-rolling Seedballs at their kitchen table in London, knowing they had found an easier way to grow from seed they were excited to get their first Seedball product out. Initially they sold their Seedballs in home-made packaging at small fairs and market stalls.
Keen to find a sustainable and recyclable way to package their Seedballs they came across a family run tin-can manufacturer in South London, knowing that metal recycles forever they realised this was the material they were after and in 2013 they launched the Seedball tin.
People were loving the resulting wildflowers they had grown from Seedballs and started sharing their pictures of blooms being visited by bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies. By now the kitchen table wasn’t quite cutting it, so they built a garden shed and moved their production there, employing a couple of local mums to help out whilst their children were at school!
By 2017 with a growing team, Seedball were stocked in about 150 shops (including Kew Gardens) and featured in the Guardian Christmas Gift Guide, going on to win Gift of the Year (Eco Friendly Category) and the Garden Retail Awards (Best New Gardening Growing Product).
Lots of exciting stuff has happened, Emily represented Seedball on Channel 4’s ‘Buy It Now’ (Episode 13) – a show where you have to pitch your product to the audience and a panel of retailers – scary but oh so much fun too! Oh and did we mention Ana and Emily also managed to have 3 children together whilst all this was going on!
The company continued to grow, with Emily and Ana at the helm they moved out of the garden and into a workshop, now with Mika as office manager and a team of 14 busy bees helping with the making. The Seedball range has also increased and now includes single species grab bags, cute seed boxes, cardboard tubes and the classic tin now with 14 different wildflower mixes. Their newest product is the mini-meadow pots, which provide three compostable bamboo pots, coir compost and seed balls, everything you need to start growing your own wildflower paradise.
From their desire to help bees grew this small business on a massive mission to help increase the abundance of British wildflowers and the wildlife that depend upon them. Being a non-profit company means they can give proceeds from the sale of different mixes to charities like Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and People’s Trust For Endangered Species.
Seedball also launched a range in collaboration with the Natural History Museum for Beetles, Birds and Bats. Every year Seedball also supply wildflower Seedballs to schools across the country, encouraging kids to look after bees and butterflies. You can even order personalised seed boxes to hand out at parties or as wedding favours, helping increase the abundance of wildflowers.
Seedball believe that if we all better use whatever space we have available to us (whether a back garden, balcony, window box, or tiny patio) together we can have a hugely beneficial impact on our local ecosystems.
Ana and Emily are inspiring a wildlife gardening revolution and providing a very handy way of going about it!
Leading the way by using only native wildflowers, peat-free compost and recyclable or compostable packaging materials, if you would like to purchase any of the Seedball products we are delighted to offer you a 10% discount until the end of October 2021 with the code RURALMUMS Please do check out the online shop and website for lots of lovely gift ideas and an easy way to grow a little wild!