Stephanie O’Neil was perusing the baking aisle at her local supermarket when she noticed a shelf’s worth of neon cake mixes in “really, really bright colors.”

“There was bright green and bright pink and bright orange, and I thought, ‘This cannot be the direction we’re headed,” she recalled. “Please, no.”

Fast forward to lots of kitchen experiments with her food dehydrator, and O’Neil has developed a treat that’s likely to make lots of ice cream- and cupcake-loving children (and their moms) happy.

O’Neil’s Garden Sprinkles, sold under her Farm to Table Kids brand, resemble other sprinkles in the baking aisle, but with an important difference: They contain no hydrogenated palm kernel oil, no corn syrup, no food coloring, and no carnauba wax. Sure, they’re still mostly sugar, but they come in a palette of colors created with dehydrated vegetables crushed into powders. The bottle of pink sprinkles is pink because it’s made with organic beet powder. A bottle of rainbow sprinkles includes the pink sprinkles, plus white ones made with white beets, and yellow ones colored with carrots and turmeric.

Not all of her experiments with sprinkles have succeeded. In an attempt to make orange, she tried red pepper. “I ground it up and it was this beautiful fiery orange,” O’Neil recalled. “And when I made the sprinkles, it was exactly the color I wanted, and then we tasted them and it was so awful.”

To make the sprinkles, she makes colored royal icings, which cake decorators use to pipe decorations on cookies and such. She pipes the mixture out in an icing bag, lets it dry, hand-cuts the sprinkles and bottles them.

O’Neil has also made a line of cupcake mixes and frostings using the dehydrated vegetables, in strawberry, blueberry and carrot cake flavors.

O’Neil is using profits from her Farm to Table Kids products to help fund the free garden classes for children that she teaches on her four-acre organic farm in North Yarmouth. Last year 428 children got their hands dirty, and now that she’s expanding her gardens from four to seven, she’s hoping to reach 1,000 students over the next school year. “It’s important to me that all the garden clubs remain free for anybody,” she said.

The Garden Sprinkles are sold online at O’Neil’s website,, at the Freeport Farmers Market, and at Kamasouptra in the Portland Public Market House for $5.99 to $6.99 per bottle.