Novagrow sprouts conquering the classes

Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, bok choy, arugula, watercress, Swiss chard: you name it, sprouts! An Ahuntsic company has designed a small planter, as innovative as it is aesthetic with its sleek bamboo base, designed to easily grow a variety of greenery on its counter. And Novagrow has seen beyond the kitchen: it has taken its technology to schools.

But first, how does said planter work? Simply scatter seeds on a small compostable natural fiber mat on a tray, water them, and within one to two weeks the planter with LED lighting will be teeming with sprouts. Once harvested, the mat is composted and new seeds are sown on a virgin mat — so the cycle starts again! You get the blank mats and the seeds on the Novagrow site, which even offers sets with enticing themes, such as the great chef, the seasonal, the antioxidant or the gourmet.

Novagrow double planter. Photo: Novagrow

Raising awareness among primary school children

Grow superfoods rich in vitamins and antioxidants, in a super-fast way, without having to be good at gardening (while saying ciao to the disposable plastic containers that wrap them at the grocery store)… the Novagrow team saw in its technology an educational scope. And dark!

The company, which reached an agreement with three investors on the issue In the eye of the dragon, set up a pilot project at the beginning of the year with elementary school students. His aim? Make them aware of growing fresh and healthy food at home and show them how easy it is to do so with its innovation.

The Magdeleine elementary school in La Prairie, the Hauts-Bois-de-l’Outaouais school service center and the Sherbrooke region school service center took part in the game.

If the Novagrow device can grow up to six plants of greenery at a time, the young people have inherited a mini planter each. On the menu: radishes, peas, broccoli, kale and sunflower in particular, varieties of shoots that germinate more quickly than fine herbs.
The co-founders of Novagrow, Simon Roberge and Simon Dufour Préfontaine. Photo: Novagrow

“This project is perfect for primary school,” said Simon Dufour Préfontaine, co-founder of Novagrow, in an interview. “The teacher is always with her gang of children and can monitor growth daily. While in high school, the classes change.

Students learned along the way about the nutritional values ​​of sprouts, how to prepare them, and related culinary traditions — Novagrow provided teachers with plenty of documentation. “We are passionate about each of these herbs,” says the funding manager.

Once their sprouts were harvested, in less than two weeks, not all the children cooked them at home, no, no. Some have instead dabbled in entrepreneurship by selling them to school staff, while others have offered them to their school cafeteria for a salad bar. “That was really cute“, is moved Simon, underlining the plurality of outlets.

Building on the success of the project, classes will renew the experience at the start of the school year in two weeks. Not to mention that Novagrow is discussing with “several other classes to triple the number of projects by 2023”, rejoices the co-founder.


Two words: productivity and nutrition

Novagrow emphasizes two elements in its project: the science behind growing sprouts as well as their health benefits. This is why the project fits into science and technology courses. “We want to show that we can have access to fresh and very nutritious food in a productive way”, sums up Simon.

Children can also be made aware of ecological issues, such as urban and local agriculture or the absence of packaging. Addressing the environmental aspect of the project, however, comes down to the goodwill of the teacher, he specifies.

Finally, what does he wish he had sown in the children (pardon us for the easy pun)? “We want to share our innovation, which is good for health, good for the environment, good for the lifestyle people,” says Simon Dufour Préfontaine. It changed our life. That’s why we started this company. We hope to sow curiosity and awareness that this technology exists.”

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