An solution so compelling it raised $230,000 on Kickstarter in just 4 days.
Farm-to-table food is great, but what if you could take it one step further and have your own little farm right in your kitchen? Year-round, fresh organic fruit and veggies don’t sound half-bad. That’s why two MIT students founded Grove Labs, a sustainable startup committed to changing the future of food.
According to the website, “The Grove Ecosystem is an intelligent, indoor garden that enables people to grow fresh, flavorful, and nutrient-rich food year-round.” The ecosystem runs with a completely self-sustaining technique called aquaponics, in which plants, fish, and bacteria work together to keep the system going.
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The ecosystem contains two gardening beds and an aquarium. In the aquarium part, the fish eat food to turn it into waste, and then bacteria turn that waste into nitrates — an essential fertilizer for plants. Then, a plumbing system pumps the nitrate-rich water through the plant beds. Instead of soil, the gardening beds have expanding clay pebbles, and these pebbles double-function as a biological filter.
The best part of all? You can control the Grove system from your pocket. The ecosystem is controlled by an intelligent operating system (gOS), so you can input what you’re growing and the system will automatically optimize the Ecosystem’s settings to fit your needs. Plus, there’s a vacation mode, so you can guiltlessly take that beach vaca without worrying about coming home to dead fruits and veggies.
The system also makes the whole gardening thing as easy as possible by monitoring the water level, temperature, pumps, lights, and fans. If anything’s off, you’ll get an alert sent to your phone.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Grove Labs
According to the Boston Globe, Jamie Byron, one of Grove’s founders and an aerospace engineering major, built his first aquaponics system in his fraternity room at MIT. In just a month, he was growing string beans, lettuce, kiwis, and a bunch of other plants. The founders and Grove employees have successfully sprouted fresh jalapenos, tomatoes, Thai basil, mizuna, kale, and a number of spices. Yum.
Grove plans to soon launch its product nationally, but the price is set at a steep $2,700, and that’s just for loyal Kickstarter backers. Commercially, the Grove Ecosystem is set to cost $4,500. The founders are hoping to be able to sell at a lower cost eventually though.
However, Byron is confident that the smart home ecosystems will take over and lead to a more sustainable world. “We’re starting an industry here,” Byron told the Boston Globe. “This will be a thing.”
Read more about aquaponics.