My West London Life

Sam Smith, Founder of Pot Gang

August
17

Sam Smith is intent on building "the biggest group of reformed plant killers in the world"

Do you live in west London?

Yeah, born and bred! I grew up around the Askew Road/Ravenscourt Park area and went to school in Hammersmith. All my family are still in W12 too.

What’s your favourite thing about the area?

The mix of people. In terms of class, race, culture, there’s lots of diversity. It’s interesting to live within: gives you a better perspective and more to explore.

Describe your perfect day and evening in west London…any favourite haunts?

Say it’s a Saturday… I’d head up to Lisboa Patisserie on Golborne Road to play cards and eat some Pastel de Natas, then head over to the Uxbridge Road for some Syrian pizza before watching the mighty Queens Park Rangers give Chelsea a beating. Then probably head to the Crown & Sceptre for a couple and meet some mates to have it large.

You’re the founder of Pot Gang, a grow-your-own subscription service that aims to make growing veg, herbs and fruit accessible for young people in London. What inspired you to start the business?

I was never really a gardening guy but started growing-my-own stuff in pots at home. Then during the lockdown, I clocked that loads of my mates were doing the same. No one really knew what they were doing though: what to grow, how to grow it, all that. And any advice out there was pretty gardening-y and serious. I thought, why not make it simple for people who want to grow stuff but aren’t experienced. Give them everything they need each month to get growing, making it super simple and a good vibe too.

Tell us how it works…

We drop off a box at the beginning of each month (or two – up to you). And in that box are three types of seasonal seeds, pots for growing them in, all the compost you’ll need, and loads of super simple guidance. You just get growing. Plus you get access to The Potline to hit us up with any questions as you go. All for a bit less than buying all the components yourself.

Many Londoners will feel completely out of their depth with gardening, is the service suitable for absolute beginners (and/or confirmed plant killers!)?

Yeah, if you can’t garden, we’ve got you. I want to build the biggest group of reformed plant killers in the world. I’ve never been big into gardening myself, I just wanted to eat fresh, varied and less wastefully. So I try to make everything as straightforward and rewarding as possible. You don’t need anything fancy.

How much space do you need?

Not much, just a bit of outdoor space on a balcony or patio. We’ve got indoor growing boxes in the pipeline too, so sit tight if you’ve only got windowsills!

Why do you think growing-your-own beats buying it from the supermarket?

Ah, it’s better on so many levels. What’s available in supermarkets is pretty limited. They usually have one or two types of each fruit, veg or herb, when there are often hundreds of strains out there of each. There are loads of flavours and colours to explore when you grow it yourself. Plus it’s so much fresher. Things taste way more juicy and lush when they were picked minutes ago, rather than days ago.

Honestly, once you eat something you’ve grown yourself and put your love into, Sainos can’t compete. Then on top of that, there’s fewer food miles, less packaging and no more soggy salad bags going off in the back off the fridge. And it’s properly rewarding seeing them grow up too – I feel like my seedlings are my little babies.

With supermarkets selling produce from all over the world all year round, there’s a real disconnect that exists between what we eat and where it comes from. What do you think the implications of that are, and how is Pot Gang is a step in the right direction to healing that disconnect?

Yeah, there’s so much stuff that we ship over that you can grow right here in London. Doing it in your own space is less wasteful and way more rewarding. That’s what Pot Gang’s all about. Doing it simple.

What’s one piece of green-fingered advice you can offer our readers?

Try growing what’s not on the shelf.

Find out more and order your first kit: www.potgang.co.uk

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