Superior, Wis., couple sprouts web-based seed company
“The pandemic showed people that growing your own food is something you can do."
SUPERIOR, Wis. — When Jen and Eric Mistry couldn’t find what they were looking for, they made it themselves.
In November, the couple launched Superior Seed Company , a web-based business that offers premium herb, veggie and flower kits with instructions on how to plant them — and in the right amounts. Their site is at superiorseedcompany.com .
Seeds often come in packs of a few dozen to 500 or 1,000. “If you’re just growing a home garden or just on a deck or balcony, that’s way too many seeds,” Eric Mistry said.
Buying less helps curb waste and ensures a better yield as seeds are typically best the year you get them. If stored correctly, they can keep pretty well for two to three years with a limited success rate.
“The pandemic showed people that growing your own food is something you can do. It tastes better, and it’s a cool hobby you can dive deep into.
“We’ve got a good gardening community,” Mistry added.
Last year, the Mistrys grew tomatoes, six varieties of basil, peas, beans, cucumbers and a lot of sunflowers.
Their trick for selecting what’s in their seed kits: “We picked the ones we wanted to grow ourselves.”
Jen and Eric Mistry took some time to talk about what they’re growing in our community.
Q: Tell us about your introduction to gardening.
Jen: Eric was really into gardening when we met, therefore, by association, I then became into gardening. Last year was my first year really putting work into it and enjoying the benefits!
Eric: I grew up in Iowa, and my family always had a garden. When I moved to Duluth, I got a plot via the Duluth Community Garden Program, and now we have our ever-expanding home garden.
Q: What’s the most gratifying plant to grow?
Jen: Root veggies! You never know how big they are until you pull them from the soil. It’s always a fun surprise.
Eric: I love growing different types of herbs. Fresh herbs make such a difference while cooking, and there are so many varieties you just can’t buy at the grocery.
Q: How do you pick your seeds? Your seed kits?
Jen: We wanted to have seeds that you wouldn’t find at all of the big box stores. We have themed kits, veggies, herbs and flowers, or you can make your own! We tried to target many people with our kits, whether it’s those just beginning to garden, in a smaller yard, or those who already have quite the green thumb.
Eric: We chose proven varieties that are a bit unusual. They might have cool colors, interesting flavor profiles or unique shapes. The seed kits are designed to be just the right amount to fill a garden.
Q: What are your roles in the biz?
Jen: We both came up with the ideas. I’m more of the packing, mailing and organization.
Eric: We both helped plan the kits. I handle the website, graphic design and marketing.
Q: Have you learned anything about each other by becoming partners in business?
Jen: Yes haha. The biggest thing I’d say we learned was our communication style and how to improve on that. We are typically on the same page; we just get there using very different paths.
Eric: We’re one of the best examples of “opposites attract,” which has worked out well for us! It’s been good to see where we each have our strengths. (Thank goodness Jen is so organized!)
Q: What does it mean to you to be able grow your own food?
Jen: It’s the whole circle coming together. Making a homemade meal from fresh things from your own garden is so satisfying. It could be the same ingredients from the store, but it will just taste so much better. Plus, you always have snacks available when you’re outside!
Eric: It just makes everything taste better to know it’s a result of your work and care. Plus, it’s tough to get fresher food than from your own garden.
Q: What’s next for Superior Seed Company?
Jen: “Shark Tank”! But only if we get Lori. For now, hopefully just getting others into spending more time outside and trying new things. A little bit of sunshine and a fun home-cooked meal can go a long way!
Eric: We’re hoping to partner with more local groups and businesses to get our seed kits into as many hands as possible. They’re a great way to reduce waste and get more folks into gardening.
Q: Tips for new gardeners?
Jen: Start small then expand. Spacing is actually really important. And have fun! Sometimes, seeds don’t do well, and some do great! It’s just fun to see!
Eric: Spacing is so key. Give each plant more room than you think it needs to grow, even if it makes your garden look a bit sparse at first. Also, look up companion planting for your plants; certain plants grow much better together.
Q: You can both (safely) dine with three people, alive or dead. Who are they and why?
Jen: Jet Tila — I just really want him to teach me a great pad Thai recipe, and his humor is very subtle. Pat Summit — This incredible woman is a legend in college basketball and has been an influence on my coaching style. Erin Morgenstern — She is such a captivating author, her books are hard to put down.
Eric: Ben Franklin, Julia Child and Teddy Roosevelt. I’d love to hear Ben Franklin’s thoughts on everything, but especially our modern world. Julia Child is a personal hero, and I’d love to cook a meal alongside her. Teddy Roosevelt is such an inspiring figure, and his stories would keep us all entertained. The dinner table with the three of them would be the most gregariously entertaining experience I can imagine.