Get Your Greenaid Seedbombs
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Kim and Daniel Seedbomb Cities
When Kim Karlsrud inherited her dad’s gumball vending-machine collection, she wasn’t really sure what to do. Filling them with candy didn’t quite mesh with her interests in sustainability and social responsibility, but as a partner in Los Angeles-based design firm Commonstudio alongside Daniel Phillips, the challenge of coming up with a creative use for the machines was just too fun to resist.
After graduating from Otis College of Art and Design, Kim and Daniel had become involved with guerilla gardening – a worldwide movement that brings life back to barren city landscapes through subversive planting on vacant lots, cracks in the sidewalk, and anywhere else you can bury a seed.
“There's huge opportunities for new types of creative and responsible industries to emerge—if you're willing to take a risk for something you believe in.”– Daniel Phillips
The two were appalled not only by the lack of parks and greenery in urban areas, but by how many unused lots lay barren throughout the city. While working with other guerilla gardeners they were introduced to a tool that can quickly change that – seedbombs. Small balls of nutrient-rich clay packed with wild seeds, seedbombs allow life to be planted virtually anywhere—especially in places that are too hard to reach otherwise.
“Seedbombs have been around in some form or another for decades, yet it seemed like not a lot of people outside of a specific community of activists were actually using them,” explains Daniel. “The question of how to make seedbombing more accessible had been rattling around in the back of our minds for a while before we realized the gumball machines were the ideal distribution method for them.” The two technologies collided, and with some trial-and-error they were able to create gumball-sized seedbombs that fit their vending machines perfectly. “The eureka moment wasn't an immediate stroke of insight but more of an experiment that we were thrilled to find workable,” reveals Daniel. The Greenaid Seedbomb Vending Project was begun.
When their initial seedbomb dispensing machines quickly garnished international attention, Kim and Daniel expanded the business with help from crowdfunding through Kickstarter.com and began selling vending machines and bulk orders of seedbombs to businesses that share their goal of bringing nature back to the city.
Each seedbomb is made by hand in Kim and Daniel’s small apartment in western Los Angeles, which they lovingly refer to as the “bomb shelter” since it’s been completely taken over by the business. Stuffed between dozens of buckets of seeds and 30-pound bags of raw clay sits a huge "seedbomb oven” packed with drying racks full of a worldly variety of freshly made seedbombs.
With over 40 Greenaid seedbomb dispensers installed across the country, and orders starting to come in from Europe, Mexico, and Canda, discovering which species of plant are native to each region has become a bit of a challenge. “Sometimes we have to call nurseries on the other side of the world to find out what sort of plants grow well there. We've met a lot of really nice, very nerdy people who are totally down for the cause and willing to offer their expertise,” jokes Daniel.
By creating a distribution network for seedbombs through Greenaid, Kim and Daniel have made it easy for the average person to become an active participant in beautifying their city. For the same cost as a handful of candy, a casual guerilla-gardener can quickly turn a patch of dirt on the side of the street into a vibrant pocket of life.
“Taking care of our land is our responsibility, and with small actions and those spare coins in your pockets you can do something very good,” asserts Kim. “Challenge the idea that urban life and natural processes are incompatible,” adds Daniel. “Seed bombs are not the solution, but a step to it.”