Love and microgreens: the Canterbury couple making homegrown greens easy

When the opportunity arose for architects Natalie and Lukas to take their passion for sustainable living and love of growing microgreens to the next level, they took the plunge and started Little Stem Microgreens.

Natalie and Lukas of Little Stem Microgreens

What do you make?

We create easy-to-follow, beautiful, fun, and sustainable microgreens home growing kits.

How did you get into your craft?

We are actually two architects from Czech Republic. We love design and nature and we always dreamed of having our own business. Lukas had been working at a friend’s microgreen farm as a side hustle and fell in love with everything about growing microgreens. After the first lockdown, his friends decided to let the business go and so an opportunity to start our own thing came up. 

Microgreens urban farming connected it all for us – the passion for sustainable living, creating, nature, and realising our full potential. And so after some brainstorming, risk assessments, and little business plan but huge enthusiasm, we decided to go all in!

A Little Stem Microgreens home growing kit in action
Microgreens grown with a Little Stem Microgreens home growing kit

Your favourite materials, tools, and processes?

Our favourite materials are natural ones. That’s the reason we have chosen to use organic soil as a growing medium for our growing kits. It’s the harder path, but we believe that it’s the way to go. The message we want to share is to stick to tradition and to remember how is food meant to be grown. 

For our kits, we have chosen to use ECOware bamboo fibre, which is certified for commercial composting. Our brochures and the labels inside our kits are all printed on paper without lamination. For our external paper labels, we have used an eco-laminate designed to degrade shortly after disposal. Our use of sustainable materials ensures our kits are entirely free from plastic and any contribution to landfill.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces.

Every kit and every order is carefully hand packaged. We fill a paper bag with organic soil, seal it, stamp it, and place it into the bamboo punnet. We then weigh the seeds and create a seed bag, add stickers, and seal it. We add the seed bag on top of the soil bag, then we add the step-by-step manual, our flyer with other microgreen varieties, and a wooden spoon to mix the soil with water, and then we close it with the bamboo lid. Lastly, we add stickers and voila, the magic can be shipped to you!

Lukas stamping bags for Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits
Natalie filling bags with organic soil for Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits
Natalie measuring out seeds for Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits
Natalie applying labels for Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits

What inspires you?

Our customers for sure. The children. Future generations. The future of our planet. Nature. Everyday life. 

We love to think about the environment and find innovative solutions to the fast-paced life that we’re living. 

We believe that a one-time-use gift can be healthy, edible, educational, sustainable, and fun at the same time. 

Is there a philosophy behind your work?

We have noticed that microgreens are gaining popularity, due to their nutritional value and easy growing process, which has led to the demand for growing microgreens at home. 

Microgreens mostly don’t regrow back after harvesting, which makes it a one-use process. Based on that, we wanted to create an easy one-use home-growing kit that would be super environmentally friendly. We also wanted to use soil instead of other growing pads to keep it a natural way of growing, and low waste as you can simply recycle the soil back into the ground. To meet all our requirements, we researched the best possible solution for ages before we found a suitable product to create our kits as you know them today. 

What has been a highlight of your maker journey so far?

When you have an idea in your head, then you see its manifestation in front of you and it’s even better than you could have imagined. That’s the highlight for us.

Describe your creative process:

It’s a lot of daydreaming and visualisation, which we then share with each other. Usually, we argue a lot and eventually, we agree on something. 

Describe your workspace:

It would be at least half of a garage, half of our backyard, often a living room floor, and we’ve also turned one room into a home office.

Five words that describe your mind:

Dance between creativity, drive, visualisation, love, and food.

Natalie putting together Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits

Your favourite feedback from a customer:

“I chose Little Stem because they are local people and their materials are eco friendly. The microgreens arrived the next day, and were as ordered. The instructions were precise. I love them! Great product and great service.”

What are you currently listening to?

Lots of podcasts. In terms of music, Lukas mostly listen to Rancid, Rage Against the Machine, and the Interrupters. Natalie currently plays Leisure, Rolling Stones, or Michael Jackson. 

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?

Míťa Alone in the World, a Czech book.

We like it because Mita is a boy who woke up one day to find himself at home and in the whole town alone. He takes full sips of the freedom that is offered to him and enjoys doing whatever he wants, but over time he knows the weight of loneliness. He is all the happier when he wakes up and realizes that it was all just a dream. 

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?

Everyone who turned something bad or unfortunate that happened to them into the superpower of overcoming the fear or pain and keep going forward. 

A favourite quote:

We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. 

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?

Fun one! Maybe a Timemaster and the superpower would be to bring all ideas to life in no time! 

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?

Just start. It is that simple and also that very difficult.

Start somewhere. Keep going. Don’t stop. It will crystalise over time and who knows where will it take you. So to start is the most important thing.

Production line for Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits
Little Stem Microgreens home growing kits

Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?

It is very important to know where the product is coming from. Everything is energy, our money is energy, and we choose where the energy goes. Every time we make a purchase, we also vote for values that are behind the product. With those everyday seemingly unimportant votes, we create a foundation for our future. We decide what we want the future to be like, every day, whether we realise it or not. 

What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?

We literally do a little dance or little yay yelling every time. 

It is such an amazing feeling, that we probably aren’t able to describe. We are beyond grateful for every support. Even better is the feeling of seeing our product being used and making someone happy.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?

We have recently bought an authentic painting from an overseas artist who was traveling around NZ. We wanted to support the artist as her story was so interesting. 

What’s your favourite item in your shop right now?

Uhh.. that would be the one we are currently working on and would like to launch soon. So I’d definitely watch this space. 

What’s in store for 2023?

We are constantly working on making the current offerings better and improving our processes and overall customer experience. 

We have just joined Fresho, a wholesale platform to help us reach new cafés and restaurants.

In terms of our home-growing kits, we are preparing a special edition for Christmas. There is another offering in the making aimed at everyone who loves to enjoy delicious and nutritious meals at home! We’re so excited about growing our wee company and spreading the microgreens love further.

Microgreens grown from a Little Stem Microgreens home growing kit