Just as there's a story behind every Oya in the ground, there's a story behind the Oyas themselves. Here's just a bit of it.
A Water-Saving Company
GrowOya began with the quest for the freshest food possible.
In 2011, co-founder Josh—foodie, celebrated chef and city dweller—let the passion he felt for farm-to-table cuisine lead him into the garden. Busy and eco-minded he wanted to find the most efficient and sustainable way to grow great food in a small urban space. His research unearthed an ancient idea—the olla (pronounced “o-ya”)—an irrigation technique used across civilizations. It seemed perfect for today’s gardener—an heirloom watering system.
On a sunny Saturday at the farmers’ market, Kenny—industrial designer, clay enthusiast and passionate maker—approached Josh’s Oya booth. Kenny loved the concept and had a vision for how the hand-turned Oyas could be improved through better design and the manufacturing made more efficient to bring them to a wider market.
The final addition was Brant—entrepreneur, business-builder and enthusiast for companies that do well by doing good. Brant wanted as many gardeners as possible—new and seasoned, young and old—to use Oyas to grow better gardens and help the planet by saving water at the same time.
GrowOya’s roots are in the local food movement. We’ve adapted ancient technology to help people grow great gardens in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
Why We Do iT
We love to see gardening growing in popularity and moving into spaces that even a decade ago people would have thought were off limits—roof tops, boulevards, mobile trucks. Gardening calms our minds, it makes us notice and react to our environment and it connects us to the food we eat every day. It’s truly powerful and amazing to watch a tiny seed turn into the bounty that it does. Gardening makes it hard not to think that the world is a little bit magic.
But with all good things there are challenges.
Water is becoming more and more scarce. It is estimated that 36 US states are currently facing water shortages. Overall consumption has spiked and gardening plays a role. We want gardening to continue to grow and we want gardeners to feel good about how they use water.
GrowOya is a water-saving company. That’s our part in the sustainable growing movement. Our vision is to help sprout gardens everywhere and see more and more gardeners growing in them. We want to see kids starting at school and learning sustainable methods from the beginning. We want the growth to continue.
We’ll help you save water, you keep on growing your garden.
Brant Cheetham is an organizer with a history of social entrepreneurship and work with mission-driven businesses and organizations. He has worked on environmental initiatives since his teens and has melded those values with an entrepreneurship bent to start and assist several successful social businesses. He draws inspiration and hope from the current wave of companies thinking deeper than just profit.
Brant is assistant gardener and apprentice to his wife, who keeps a mean East Van backyard garden. He has recently shown particular promise in the area of animal husbandry. In addition to being a proud father of two kids, he has four hens in his backyard flock.
Josh McWilliams is a chef by training and a foodie to the core. He was the instigator of GrowOya and remains an incredible source of passion for the company. He has worked at high-end restaurants all over the world, but his inspiration continues to be found from sourcing local ingredients and connecting from farm-to-table. That’s what brought him into the sustainable food movement.
When he’s not in the kitchen you’re likely to find Josh, his wife and their two daughters tending to one of their community garden plots where his experiments in growing continue.
Kenny Torrance is an artist and designer with a true passion for sustainability and the natural world. He has been creating with clay for years, both professionally and personally, and sees it as a material deeply embedded in who he is. He comes from a product design background and loves seeing people use his designs in their everyday life.
Kenny and his family live on BC’s breathtaking Sunshine Coast where they enjoy fresh fruit from their own trees and are happily planting more Oyas in their garden so they can spend more time at the beach and in the forest.