Refined Product Brings Farming to the Urban Apartment

Urban farming is catching on as more and more people are getting interested in DIY projects and locally-grown food, but it still remains something of a niche that is held back from wider popularity by interested parties living in climates with harsh winters or, say, a lack of space. Windowfarms, this week’s featured Kickstarter project, looks to change that by providing a system that is capable of growing a variety of plants without requiring ample space or a consistent outdoor temperature.

Windowfarms lets users grow almost any type of plant (except for root vegetables and tall crops like wheat) with nothing more than a window, a thermostat and its (super sci-fi sounding) “liquid soil”. Timed nutrient delivery bypasses the need for high quality dirt, giving urban farmers the ability to administer the most appropriate plant food themselves. This functions alongside Windowfarms’ creation of a micro-climate that gives plants the right temperature and moisture level they need to grow, even in a confined space.

The Windowfarms project was first started back in 2009 by Britta Riley, an artist and technology designer based out of Brooklyn, New York City. Her initial concept grew (ha ha ha) with the collaboration of others, taking form as an open project that drew in engineers, designers and others. The continuation of Windowfarms’ community concept extends today to a group website that provides a venue for the user base’s sharing of tips on growing different plants and more.

The product is now refined enough that it is capable of growing herbs, vegetables, some fruit and various other plants by creating a micro-climate next to the window of almost any user’s living space. The Kickstarter campaign (Windowfarms’ second crowd-sourcing project) will help facilitate the production of this improved model of Windowfarms, a version of the tool that is easier to assemble (taking only about 10 minutes whereas the previous type could take an entire day) and made from environmentally-friendly components.

Contributing to Windowfarms gives Kickstarters a way to donate to a worthwhile project while also getting in on the ground floor of a new style of urban farming. The developers of the product have reduced prices and set their funding goal at an amount that will allow them to place the minimum order from their manufacturers. Any funds raised above the $50,000 goal will be used to purchase Windowfarm molds so that future pressings won’t have to meet a minimum order number to be made.

Pledging $99 or higher provides contributors with their own Windowfarm (tossing in more money yields rewards like baby plants, Windowfarm unit extensions, personalized designs that fit in a custom space and more). For those interested in the concept but unwilling to make the jump to ownership, smaller donations are recognized with prizes like nylon shopping bags and canvas tote bags.

Want more information on Windowfarms? You’re in luck. Details on the project are available through Windowfarms’ official page, community site, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and, of course, Kickstarter. The project will be funded on Wednesday, December 7th at 11.59pm EST if its $50,000 funding goal is reached on time.