There are three problems surrounding traditional agriculture:
1) It’s a direct contributor to obesity epidemic; children’s resistance to eating greens is a normal body response to flavorless produce.
2) Transportation from hundreds of miles away.
3) Low yields per unit of water and energy add to global starvation and wars.
To help remedy this we offer advanced do-it-yourself hydroponic container designs combined with efficient LED lighting as a possible solution for lack of produce flavor and low yield.
We are targeting the world’s 800 million part-time urban farmers looking to supplement income or simply wishing for year-round fresh produce. Currently commercial inter-urban enterprises, funded by “green” VCs, are putting “Greenhouses 2.0” on the roofs of buildings to gain access to cheap real estate, abundant sunlight and on-the-spot access for customers.
Our Recyclable Portable Container (RPC)* is designed for use in urban environment. Challenges are lack of space and most importantly, sunlight. The RPC takes up almost no space and would fit perfectly on patio or rooftop. Its lightweight makes it easily hung on sunny wall or near window.
There are two variations of RPC. Wicking RPC is self-watering container that uses capillary action to transport water up to the soil from a reservoir at the base. It only requires the following to construct: two identical plastic bottles for holding the soil mix, water, a sponge for wicking, any tubing for refilling water reservoir, and pair of scissors. WRPC is used primarily as a starting container for seeds of larger plants (i.e. tomatoes) and as permanent self-watering container for small plants.
The other design is Flood and Drain RPC (FDRPC) **. The modularly assembled building-block system allows for adding sections of grow medium, water, and light as the plant grows taller. Plants such as the Purple Chokeberry1 or Miracle Fruit2 could live in this container. It is a very simple yet sophisticated high-tech grow platform made almost entirely of empty Pepsi, Coke, Perrier, Gatorade, PediaSure…plastic bottles. All one needs is a few one-gallon plastic containers, couple of small bottles, piece of plastic tubing and pocket knife. Optional build-in yeast reactor provides additional CO2. Unlike WRPC, FDRPC uses a patented synthetic grow medium3, which eliminates the need for soil.
To grow a healthy plant one must remove all possible causes of plant stress. For a tomato plant include over- and under-watering, over- and under-fertilizing, and diseases affecting the roots and fruits. The RPC design helps solve these problems to keep your plant healthy. Adding the appropriate nutrients helps guard against disease. Experiments to achieve optimal concentrations of key flavor4 compounds such as cis-3-hexenal, hexanal, cis-3-hexenol, b-ionone are already in progress. We strive to achieve mouth-watering flavor of home-grown tomatoes.
The RPC not only provides an inexpensive solution for increasing your plants survival, but also allows anyone, anywhere to become an inter-urban farmer.
1. Purple Chokeberry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aronia
4. Emin Yilmaz The Chemistry of Fresh Tomato Flavor. Turk J Agric For 25 (2001) 149-155
* & ** Illustrations enclosed