The fun thing about a blog is that people contact you. Sometimes to sell something, sometimes with the most ridiculous offers.., and sometimes you receive an email that makes you go.., hmmmm…
In this particular case it’s about a young startup that launches on Kickstarter today, and Niwa is its name. The subject of the email? “The future of food is here. Grow dinner from your smartphone!”
Okay, that caught my attention, and here’s how I understand it.
At the hard of the system there is a very clever gadget. One that possesses the mind of an experienced farmer. Actually, it’s programmed with a solid amount of data to make sure the ideal environment is maintained for your plant.
And, you can control everything from your smartphone, how cool is that.
The software allows you to control the Niwa, stay on top of things. It will also help you with the right timing for things to do. You can create your own “growing recipes”, or you can choose from one of the pre-programmed setting. Of course, not all varieties of all plants are available.
So, what does it actually control? A beautifully made hydroponics pod.
This is pretty amazing, in this “box” the ideal environment is created for your plant, and of course this changes regarding what plant you have. Obviously, different plants have different needs.
The reason why it works is that you control the environment in a way you’ve never been able to before.
Here’s a list of the hardware features of Niwa:
- It’s hydroponic: No soil, it’s clean and controllable
- Cloud Connected: Check and control any time, from anywhere
- Irrigation: Not “watering”, it’s controlled irrigation, always enough water (but never too much)
- Heat: No worries about the right season, the heat in Niwa is always optimised
- Clever lighting: All plants need light, this system provides just the right amount, when needed
- Ventilation: Fresh air, we all like it, your plants do too (and no draft)
- Climate Control: All of the above create an amazing micro climate specifically designed and suited to the fruit/vegetable/herb of your choosing
For the Home
Okay, so far, no downside. But, is it useful, applicable.., worth the money?
A super early bird large kit will set you back $319 (91 x 21 x 49 cm), meaning you have to get in early, via Kickstarter. Also meaning, when it gets into production, it’ll probably be more expensive, although I hope not, you’ll need quite a lot of tomatoes to earn this system back.
However, there’s a smaller one which starts at $249 (68cm tall), that’s a bit more interesting.
Although the Niwa looks gorgeous, it might not fit in every style. So, here’s the kicker; you can buy just the parts and build your own, this you can do from $149, now we’re talking.
Obviously it’s not cheap, but consider the list above, and the technology (and research) that went into it. It’s quite considerable. And if you live small, with no garden, it can be daunting to grow anything. With this system, you can grow everyting.
And, they plan on a much wider variety of shapes and sizes. In the future, you can have a Niwa integrated in a kitchen cabinet, or in a table, or anywhere else in the house.
For The Small Holding
Do we need this? We have a 35 by 14 foot polytunnel, we have space to grow anything we want. And if one plant fails, there’s plenty more.
But, I can imagine (and I’m not the expert, Laila and Bridget are) that some species are just too difficult to grow. Or are simply not doing it in our soil, or climate. And I can imagine that it’d be cool to have a system where you can grow those exotic herbs or fruits that would other wise elude you.
I can surely imagine that.
Not only is this a great idea, it’s well executed. I can see a bright future for this (I certainly hope so), with a strong community behind it, exchanging growing recipes from all sorts of exotic and rare species.
We do need the seeds though (and grow seedlings). Here’s something Niwa might facilitate in, a community that not only shares information, but also suggests, trades and shares seeds. After all, the plants have to come from somewhere.
Having said that, I do believe this is part of the future, especially in densely populated area’s and polluted cities. We can’t always choose where we live, but with this system, you can certainly have a choice in what you grow.
Niwa is launching it’s Kickstarter project today, you can pledge your commitment there. Or visit them on getniwa.com, there’s a whole bunch of information there, much more than I can cover in one blogpost.