On November 18th, Ohneka Farms, an urban farming design company based in New York City, released its most recent project on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site for investors. The ambitious campaign looks to raise $75,000 for the ROOT: a small organic hydroponic microfarm that can fit and operate anywhere in the house. This countertop garden provides the grower with automated low-energy LED lighting, a smart watering system, and a mobile phone app to control the lighting system or alert the user to refill the systems water and nutrients.
Each ROOT kit comes with the ROOT System, 16 ROOT Pods, 1 ROOT Share (16 seeds), and a nutrient solution. The countertop garden can be used to grow different lettuces, leafy greens, leafy and woody herbs, vine plants, and edible flowers in a soilless medium with 90 percent water efficiency over conventional gardening. The user may plant their own seeds, or can buy ROOT Shares, a seedling subscription from Ohneka that provides you with organic seeds (and also rare heirloom and organic specialties). The seeds are inserted into the ROOT Pods, then put into the system and left until the vegetables are ripe. And with a 12 inch length and a height of just over two feet, the ROOT can fit on most countertops, and even in closets.
In conjunction with the ROOT’s ability to increase the ease of hydroponic gardening, its product sourcing and missions make the product a must buy. It uses cradle-to-cradle design and manufacturing processes, by making systems with fibers that came from existing plastic waste, which will be constructed domestically in the United States, and can be broken back down into usable plastic. The system only uses 40 watts of power, and all ROOT Kit seeds and nutrient solutions are organically sourced. From a social aspect, the system is being created with the hopes of connecting people to their food sources. The company has been working closely with the EVOLVE Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on mental health and development, by implementing hydroponic technology in the food deserts of Philadelphia. The ROOT creators have made sure to create a product that is the pinnacle of appliance sustainability, with a focus on sustainable product sourcing, energy, water, and space efficient design, and the creation of a product with a purpose.
The project is headed by co-founders Eric De Feo and Brielle Pettinelli, projected to be completed by the end of 2015. Of the 75,000 dollars requested, 10,000 will go towards product design, 45,000 for tooling and body setup, 15,000 for electronics set up, and 5,000 for product assembly and shipping. The fundraising page estimates that the system will cost $299 and will be ready to ship by November of next year. Donors have a wide range of discounts available to them, including early donor discounts and various bulk order discounts of up to 15 countertop garden systems for $2,925. The campaign will conclude on December 18th and is available for crowdfunding here.