Based just outside Totnes, SkySprouts have been producing organic sprouts and seeds for more than 30 years. At Greenlife, we have had weekly deliveries of their delicious and nutritious punnets of goodness for many of those years. We stack them high and fill an entire shelf of one of our big chillers with them every Tuesday when they come in, and it is a rare week when we don’t completely sell out, normally within just a few days!
Alongside their weekly deliveries to Greenlife, they also supply many health stores around the country – including Planet Organic and Wholefoods in London. They sell to some farm shops and online health retailers too, but they have never sold their sprouts to supermarkets, and refuse to do business with massive retailers, choosing instead to support independent health stores and farm shops.
Sprouts are baby plants, edible at just a few days old, when they are at their peak of nutritional goodness. Instead of letting them grow to their full size, sprouts are harvested after just 3-6 days, and this is what makes them such concentrated sources of nutrition. If you think about it, the little seed of any plant has all the energy and nutrients packed into it to grow into a plant. Eating seeds is of course a good source of nutrients, but once a plant has begun to grow, and absorbed energy from the sun, it is no surprise that it becomes a veritable powerhouse of nutrition. Animals will often naturally graze on young plants and shoots whenever they can, as they instinctively know that young plants are higher in nutrients than mature plants. In some cultures, too, young plants are a recognised and prized food. Take the example of young soya beans, eaten young as super nutritious edamame beans in Japan for centuries and now popular as a ‘superfood’ in salads and vegetable dishes the world over. By eating sprouts you are going back even further and eating the plant at it’s absolute optimal time in terms of many nutrients, but with a lower calorific value. Harvesting young sprouts releases all the nutrition contained inside the seed and makes it available to us, similar to ‘activating’ nuts or seeds. Sprouts are brimming with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, as well as plant compounds that can be converted into hormones to balance our blood sugar levels, mood, energy levels and to improve gut bacteria.
Sprouts are nature’s richest source of plant hormones, which may be helpful in keeping both our bodies and minds healthy. Some of these plant compounds balance our own hormones, reduce signs of ageing and combat the negative effects of a bad diet and stress. A diet rich in these plant hormones is believed to be one reason the Japanese live longer than anywhere else, and these are obtained from a diet high in raw foods, young edible plants and sprouts! Sprouts are easy to digest, brimming with enzymes to keep gut bacteria happy too. They are a great source of bio available, or easily-accessible protein. They are highly alkaline foods, which means they may help to improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the body. What’s more, sprouts don’t require land to grow, so they are an ethical and planet friendly food. SkySprouts are certified organic by The Soil Association too, so they use no nasty pesticides, chemicals or fertilisers to speed up this process, just years and years of experience, passed on from one generation to the next.
The seed of an idea
Brett and Kathy Kellett founded SkySprouts in 1984, after moving out of the city of Exeter and purchasing a small Devon farm named Skylands. With four children (which would eventually turn into seven!), they wanted to provide their young family with the best quality foods they could. Ellisha and Kelda, the two of their children who now run SkySprouts told us
‘Everyone thought they were having a hippie phase when they bought an acre of land and moved to Devon. They filled up the garden with organic vegetables, bought chickens for organic eggs, and filled our kitchen with fresh organic dishes cooked from their own ingredients. The surplus vegetables were sold to make a living.’
Then the truly hippy moment came, thankfully for us;
‘SkySprouts was my mums’ idea. They were selling organic veggies and scraping a living to feed their four children, when mum (ever the health nerd) read a book about the health benefits of sprouts. She started sprouting seeds on the kitchen windowsill in jars, and soon began selling these alongside the vegetables. People couldn’t get enough of them, and so SkySprouts was born!’
Reaching for the Sky
Seven children and over 30 years of sprouting later, the two-sister team of Ellisha and Kelda are still supervising the production of sprouts on the same farm in Devon. They remain committed to the same good ethics and organic principles that they inherited along with the farm from Brett and Kathy. SkySprouts is now the largest producer of organic sprouts and seeds in England, a testament to the years of love and hard work that their parents put into the business. Although Brett and Kathy retired two years ago, to give them time to travel the world, go to parties, play table-tennis and be grand-parents to their endlessly expanding family, they are still on hand to offer advice when necessary. Ellisha and Kelda told us
‘Their sprout-growing expertise is second-to-none. Whenever we get a new product in we always call them up to pick their brains about the best way to grow the perfect sprout! Some things never change!’ That’s a good thing, we would add.
A quick footnote about packaging…
SkySprouts are packaged in punnets made from 91% recycled plastic and are also recyclable. They use recycled plastic rather than biodegradable or compostable alternatives because these alternatives are commonly made using genetically modified source materials, which have wider negative impacts on the environment. They work closely with the Soil Association, who advised them that RPET is currently one of the better options. Find out more about our packaging choices under the FAQs section of their own website here.