This aeroponic indoor gardening system from the Italian startup Hexagro is modular, scalable, and automated.
In a bid to help make growing some of your own food at home as easy as possible, without needing prior experience or a green thumb, the latest urban gardening product employs LED lights, a suite of sensors, and an automated aeroponics system to keep maintenance (read: gardening) time to a minimum. There are a number of other indoor and countertop grow units on the market, all of which make similar claims, but what seems to set the Hexagro Living Farming Tree apart is its modular nature, which lends itself well to not only customization, but also to scaling up the size of this vertical gardening system.
The Living Farming Tree uses aeroponics, a soil-less growing method that uses a mist of water and nutrients to feed the plants' roots, which is claimed to use up to 95% less water than conventional soil-based agriculture, while also speeding up growth. The basic setup has four growing modules, each of which can hold 6 plant pots, sitting on a framework consisting of a system of tubes and what the company calls "global connectors" that look like they go together like Tinkertoys. An irrigation network is then threaded throughout the tubing, and LED lighting is connected to the upper section of the framework, which together supply light, water, and nutrients to the plants via an automated control system.
According to the company, as many as 13 growing modules can be connected as a single unit, for a total of 78 plants, making it possible to grow more produce in a small physical footprint than a traditional garden bed. This planting density would allow homes, offices, restaurants, and more to have easy access to some freshly grown foods without taking up a lot of space, and the ability to customize its structure to grow different sized plants could make it a more versatile machine than just lettuce and microgreens, which tend to be the staples of indoor gardening systems.
"The modularity of our system lets you produce any plant you want as long as it can be grown aeroponically. I’m sorry, this means you cannot plant a cherry tree there. However, you can go from micro-greens and sprouts up to aromatic herbs, salads, leafy greens and berries. If you want to produce higher plants, you will just need to configure the system in its 2D configuration, and you will immediately be able to produce plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, medicinal herbs and many more!" - Hexagro
Hexagro Urban Farming has been working on the Living Farming Tree for several years, and was picked as one of the finalists in the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, but now the team is looking to take its system to the public with a crowdfunding campaign. Instead of Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Hexagro is participating in the Katana Reward crowdfunding ecosystem, which is part of the EU-funded business accelerator Katana. Early backers of that campaign at the €549 level (~US$645) will receive a 4-module Living Farming Tree when they ship in June of 2018. More information is available at the Hexagro website.