Orta makes self-watering terracotta pots for starting seeds and microgreens. (And coming soon, for house plants!) Everything we make is non-toxic, plastic-free and handmade in Oakland CA
I invented Orta Seed Pots because I was tired of killing my seedlings. I turned my prototype seed pots into a company because I was ready for my professional life to align with my personal values.
Four years in a row I started seeds with all the good intentions in the world, dreaming of homegrown tomatoes and unusual herbs you can't buy as starts. But each year, I skipped one day of watering and all my seedlings died. I wanted something that would be totally idiot proof for seed starting (because I am the original idiot when it comes to killing seedlings), but also be beautiful enough to keep on the kitchen counter, and made responsibly without any plastic.
Back then I was working as a corporate design consultant, and was dissatisfied with using my creative muscles to help big companies create more disposable plastic products, sell more soda, or other junk. Often I cried after assignments because the work felt so toxic to me. I realized that to bring my personal values to my professional life, I was going to have to go out on my own.
After about a year of experimenting in between consulting assignments, I taught myself to slip cast ceramics in my garage, and made my first batch of self-watering seed pot samples. I debuted the Sixie seed pot at the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa six years ago, and sold out on the first day.
Since then I've been refining materials, forms, glaze colors and manufacturing methods to build a team and a viable business while keeping true to my values: Creating tools to help gardeners grow successfully, beautifully and responsibly.
Today we're a company of 4 people, and we're still the only ones in the world making these pots.
Orta comes from the Italian word for kitchen garden. A traditional kitchen garden is a source of herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers for your family and friends: The perfect balance of beauty and function.