Since 1950 the number of people living in urban areas has grown more than 400 percent and now, well over half the population lives in cities. For those of us who love the idea of growing our own food, this increased urbanization could be a big problem. How quickly do those herb gardens you buy at the grocery store die on your window sill? Luckily though, urban agriculture keeps getting better, cheaper and small enough to cram into a Manhattan closet. Click and Grow, the designers who last year whipped Kickstarter into a frenzy to the tune of $625,000 with their smart herb garden, have upgraded to a more complete smart farm.
Unlike some of the larger, commercial urban farms which rely on expensive, resource-heavy hydroponic techniques, the Click and Grow farm utilizes LED lights and a proprietary “smart soil” that requires minimal watering. The soil is designed to distribute water evenly throughout the planter and a reservoir simply needs to be refilled once a month.
The farms are also remarkably flexible. Depending on how many people you want to feed they can be as small as 64 plants or as large as 250. The smaller farms start at only 12.8 cubic feet—small enough to shove into whatever corner you have free. And thanks to the LED lighting the plants don’t need any natural sunlight, so they really can go anywhere.
The farms are available for preorder right now starting at $500. That’s a rather substantial upfront cost, although it’s considerably less than the similarly sized Urban Cultivator and about the same price as the very useful, although somewhat less flashy Tower Garden. Click and Grow founder Mattias Lepp doesn’t want people to think of it as a cost—he wants them to think of it as more of an investment. As he said to Fast Company, “You will have an initial cost, but ultimately you can grow fresh herbs for less than buying from Whole Foods. This is our goal—that people can get very fresh food they’ve grown themselves at a good price.”