Put a farm in your kitchen. A nanofarm, that is.
Replantable aims to be a hands-off modular indoor growing device for fresh homegrown produce, year-round.
The future of fresh homegrown food may be an indoor one, at least in the cold season and for those without garden space, and although I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to gardening, it's fairly obvious to me that there are plenty of situations where growing food indoors makes sense, even if it entails buying yet another plugged-in appliance.
For the many people who live in multi-unit buildings and have no outdoor space of their own, and those who live in areas with really short growing seasons, having a method of producing at least some of their own fresh food could be a step up, produce-wise. And with LED lighting technology and smart control systems maturing, countertop growing is beginning to be a viable option. A forthcoming entry into the indoor growing space could be one possible way for the gardening newbie to get started, as it aims to be "hands-off" - at least until harvest time.
Replantable's nanofarm is akin to a very small mini-fridge in size, and could fit onto a countertop (or under one), and is able to be "stacked" (up to four units) anywhere in the home with an electric outlet that stays between 60°F and 85°F, with a stack of four nanofarms together capable of producing a continuous harvest of fresh produce. The units are lit by "daylight spectrum" LED bulbs, and the front glass door is smoked to cut down on the amount of light that is emitted into the room (something that might be an issue for those who like their homes dark at night, not glowing from a grow unit). A "whisper-quiet" ventilation system keeps the air fresh in the units, and vents oxygen-rich air into the living space of the home.
The design centers around what the company calls Plant Pads, which are soil-free, pre-seeded paper and fabric pads, containing the plant nutrients, which are placed on top of the water-filled growing tray, where they wick up water during the growing cycle. Each Plant Pad is seeded differently, depending on the variety of plant, so that larger vegetable varieties will have more growing space between them, and others, such as microgreens, will come up densely. According to the company, the Pads can simply be thrown away after harvest (which seems a bit of a waste, says the guy who composts everything), and new Pads can either be ordered at-will or via a subscription plan, with each Pad being priced at around $5.
What seems to set this countertop growing unit apart from some of the others we've seen is its focus on simplicity. It doesn't come with its own app, it doesn't connect to your smartphone, it doesn't have any sort of pump or watering system or other moving parts, and its controls are incredibly minimal. One dial selects the length of the growing 'season' in weeks, one button starts the unit, and one light is lit when it's time to harvest, so the nanofarms seem to be radically simple to operate, at least when compared to some other indoor growing units.
The device has been in beta testing for the last couple of months, so the nanofarms aren't available for purchase yet, but the company will be launching a Kickstarter campaign on August 22nd, and the units are said to be priced at $350. Find out more at Replantable.