Serena McCoy’s clever idea for home gardeners that sparked during the covid pandemic has grown into a small business with a unique and multi-faceted product that is all-Australian made, ethically manufactured and fully sustainable.

A range of signature garden labels that provide quick access to information and support has been designed by Brisbane woman Serena McCoy, whose passion for sharing the joy of growing herbs and vegetables encouraged her to start a business, Little Farm Plot. Her journey in the backyard during lockdown in 2020 inspired Serena to create a unique set of produce markers after a futile search for quality labels to use in her own vegetable garden.

The incorporation of a QR code that can be scanned by phones to access growing guidelines gives the labels another dimension, blending modern technology with the age-old practice of growing a kitchen garden. A self-taught gardener, Serena understands how confusing it can be for people when they start growing their own food, so as well as identifying the plants, the stylish markers can be scanned to access practical information for best practices on planting, growing and harvesting each species.

Ethical manufacturing and carbon-neutral delivery methods are major components of the Little Farm Plots business model. Serena said she wanted her products to be of the highest quality and made ethically in Australia to support the local economy. “It was a big decision for me not to go down the easy, cheaper road and have the labels made overseas – I wanted them to be made ethically and with the highest quality materials to ensure they withstand all weather conditions,” she said. “The labels are produced by a Melbourne company, and the steel stakes are made from Australian steel, manufactured in Brisbane just 20 minutes away from where we are located.”

Little Farm Plot incorporates other sustainable aspects into the business wherever it can. The packaging supplier No Issue has an eco-alliance project with fully compostable and eco-friendly packages and a tree planted for every order made, while Sendle is used for carbon-neutral shipping. “I also believe if more people start growing, even just the leafy greens and basics at home, it’s going to reduce the amount of plastic we get from the supermarket, so that’s another big reason why I want to help people grow their own food,” Serena said.

It all stemmed from an idea that surfaced when Serena started looking for labels to purchase for her garden and couldn’t find anything of quality that would last longer than one season. “Most of the labels available on the market are cheap and nasty disposable plastic things that you have to write on yourself, so the idea just grew from there to create beautiful lasting garden labels for people who love their vegetable garden,” she said.

“The vegetable garden became a real passion for me last year because like a lot of people, I was struggling with my mental health. It became my happy place and that has been a big driving force because I want to help other people get into the garden. As I battled my own issues, I discovered the benefits of gardening for mental wellbeing and that is what I want to share with people. At first, I wanted design labels that look great in the garden, but then I also wanted to provide information to help people along, because I think a lot of the time people give up because it can be so confusing.

“I’m a self-taught gardener, I’ve learned from my gardening mistakes and done the research that I want to share with others to help them be more successful in the garden.  The QR codes on the labels make it easy for people to access whenever they need some guidance.”

An early childhood teacher and mother-of-three, Serena says both the vegetable garden and establishing a business have involved her whole family. Covid made a lot of people re-evaluate what they want out of life,” she said. “I thought, ‘it’s now or never – just go for it’, so we made the decision that I would step back from teaching to jump all in and see where I can take this. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’m excited about the potential of Little Farm Plot.

“The kids have enjoyed planting and watching our garden grow. We go down to the garden and pick some lettuce or zucchini and beans and that in itself is so rewarding. When I put our homegrown produce in a meal, it encourages the kids to eat it even when they are being fussy. Little Farm Plot has also opened their eyes to the possibilities. The children are now thinking about what they can do to start their own businesses.”

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