Doing things for yourself produces a special satisfaction, and it’s always a pleasure to be able to showcase your handmade creations. Check this out!
Few things are more pleasurable than preparing a homemade meal and sharing it with close friends or family, and it’s only made better when you can take the ingredients straight from your garden. Wouldn’t it be amazing to produce our own “Zero Kilometer” farm to table meals from the comfort of our homes? The average shopper pays hundreds of euro annually for locally produced and certified fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, meats and cheeses and we depend on restaurants and supermarkets to provide healthy and reliable foods. This disconnect from the origin of the foods we eat is perhaps why we tend to idealise life in the countryside or purchasing our food directly from farmers. Many of us have tried (and often failed) to grow small crops indoors and most of us have at least one aromatic herb we try to use in our kitchen.
For those of us with not-quite-a-green-thumb who dream of seeing onions, chilies, tomatoes and sprouts grow at home, there are a wide range of possibilities available to help. Innovations in the food industry, particularly those supported by technology, have begun to take these lifestyle choices seriously, and are developing a number of projects to help cultivate a new generation of urban farmers who don’t have to leave the city to reap a bountiful harvest. This startup is one of the six best projects of the Kickstart Accelerator and is launching a crowdfunding campaign.
Indoor farming is fast becoming a viable method for growing and monitoring a food supply, and innovators around the world are developing new methods to employ these techniques for a growing market of interested consumers. The Italian startup Hexagrourbanfarming offers a modular orchard for the domestic cultivation which can be controlled from any smartphone using aeroponics, which uses mist from the environment to grow plants. This approach facilitates home cultivation as well as scaled production to meet the needs and available space of the farming area, and plants can be harvested throughout the year. Hexagrourbanfarming’s methods do not require the use of pesticides, are designed to save energy, and can be automatically monitored to maximize yield.
A similar vision is being proposed by Infarm, a German company that has developed stackable hydroponic cultivation units for indoor spaces that are ideal for restaurants, supermarkets and families. The garden is controlled by a “central platform” that monitors the quality and availability of produce. This system is especially useful for cultivating leafy green plants, herbs and microgreens, which are highly regarded for their nutritional value and form the basis for macrobiotic, vegetarian or vegan diets.
Other companies joining the Indoor Farming revolution are Replantable (USA) which introduced Nanofarm, a ‘hands-off’ garden that self regulates from seed to harvest, and MyFood (France) whose project is designed to generate a network of connected growers with micro-greenhouses at home. There are also a number of startups developing mini gardens and mini smart farms that pair with food growing technologies, such Click and Grow, Ponics-Sistems, Aerogarden and Meet SproutsIO.
Italian foodtech companies have offered other options for the Indoor Farming market, such as Linfa’s “digital garden of the future”: they apply advances in robotics and design develop clean hydroponic cultivation techniques, which are managed through an app and eliminate need for soil to cultivate crops.
The Wallfarm startup, another example of Italian innovation, uses “Lean Intelligent Agriculture” technology to cultivate fruits and vegetables to create and monitor indoor gardens. This technology controls temperature, humidity, pressure, pH, lighting and oxygenation to create a hanging garden or green wall, making the indoor garden and integrated part of the interior design in the home.
The Indoor farm industry began with applications to medium and large scale agricultural production and yielded important findings: reducing production costs and pesticide use improves the quality of products and allows for the diversification of crops. As such, its introduction to the domestic market has the potential to improve not only our well being and the quality of what we eat, but to generate important solutions to the economic, political, social and ecological challenges that sustainable food systems are designed to address.
The proliferation of startups in the Indoor Farming sector is an indication of widespread commitment to the collective goal of creating a “revolution in urban agriculture” and represents an exciting possibility for green policy makers and producers to contribute to global sustainability. Dickson Despommier, Professor Emeritus at Columbia University puts it best: “If every city on earth increases its indoor production by 10%, this would permit us to stop using 340,000 square miles of land for cultivation and return it to the forest, which in return would absorb enough carbon dioxide to bring the atmosphere back to levels we saw in 1980.”
The Call For Makers of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 is awaiting for your project on food and agritech. The Call is open unitil October 8: here for submitting your projects!
The Future Food Institute is partnering with Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 for the curation of the agritech and food tech pavillon. It is an Italian-based non-profit organization with global horizons that aims to build a more equitable world through enlightening a world-class breed of innovators, boosting entrepreneurial potential and improving agri-food expertise and tradition.