‘Making the world a greener place. That’s kind of our schtick’ at Garden Box, Akron’s seed delivery startup

by Colleen Hanke

When winter finally ends and warm weather arrives, many people get the urge to plant something. But, where to start? Standing in the garden section staring at a rack of seed packets is how many people begin. With so many choices, you don’t know what will grow in your home, so you take a guess. But when summer arrives and your plant withers away, you can’t help but wonder why your plant didn’t thrive. 

Réna Wienclaw and Nick Crawford hope to take the guesswork out of gardening with Garden Box. You don’t have to worry about researching what plants to grow and you can skip the trips back and forth to the greenhouse. Garden Box sends you everything you need. Their mission is to make sure you can grow a garden, no matter where you live or what your skill level is.

Colleen Hanke: Why did you start Garden Box?

Réna Wienclaw: It started a couple of years ago when I started gardening and I really just hit the wall on a lot of things. I just couldn’t find really good information that was tailored for me. I would go to like Google, “How to grow this…” and I’d find a great article but it was based from someone who lives in Australia. So, I’m like, “Alright that’s not gonna work for me.  That’s a subtropical environment and this is Ohio.” I guess Garden Box sort of spawned from the idea of wanting to give people that tailored information. They can just have the success of gardening ready to go.

CH: How does Garden Box work?

Nick Crawford: People visit our website and take a quick one- minute quiz about the kind of place that they live in and the kinds of things that they want to grow. We personalize the box for them [and] ship it to their house. They can grow their Garden Box right inside, on their windowsill.

CH: How do you decide which seeds work for which places?

NC: That’s an ongoing effort. Right now, Réna is manually hand picking and we do some research based on where that person lives. We’ll try our best to pick seeds that are guaranteed to grow. Over time we’re building up our own database of knowledge.

RW: Fortunately, most of our customers are in this growing zone, in Ohio or in Pennsylvania … We’re steadily moving outward and trying to get more people to help us get gardeners in different growing zones so they can tailor this information for people in their growing zone.

CH: How do you incorporate conservation into your business?

NC: We make sure everything in the box is biodegradable or recyclable. The paper that we print on is made from sugar cane so it’s super sustainable. We also put some of the money towards fighting climate change. We donate to organizations like Greenpeace that have that effort going. 

RW: Making the world a greener place. That’s kind of our schtick.

CH: How does using Garden Box help consumers think about conservation?

NC: The way that Garden Box helps with conservation is getting people into the mindset that they can actually grow their own food.

RW: It’s kind of starting the conversation of where our food actually comes from, where it used to come from, and where it ideally should come from: your local community. 

NC: It’s crazy, too, because there’s some kids growing up nowadays that have never seen their parents garden, they’ve never seen their grandparents garden. They’ve always just lived in an urban setting, and they have no idea that you can do this stuff right inside your house. 

CH: Do you have any future plans for new products with the company?

RW: Right now we just have the little Garden Box which is ideal for people who live in apartments or more urban settings. But I want to go into the world of creating a bigger Garden Box… so that I can send enough seeds to plant their entire garden… They can get everything they need in one box with all the instructions they need… There’s a lot of people that do garden design for farm culture, and I want to be able to do that in an affordable way for people.

CH: How much does a Garden Box cost and what comes with it?

NC: You can buy it for $12.99, shipping included. It comes with seeds for six plants, the seed starters, all the soil that you need, as well as the growing guide.

Order your Garden Box at gardenbox.club.

Colleen Hanke is a Media Studies student at The University of Akron. Photos used with permission from Réna Wienclaw and Nick Crawford.