John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
This hydroponic techno-planter requires little care, needs no dirt, and glows like a magic mushroom.
People who like the idea of living in a produce aisle where free sampling is encouraged might enjoy this: a glowing, dirt-free home gardening system that can be loaded with your favorite herbs and veggies.
"Root" is an experimental hydroponics vitrine from Ohneka Farms, a New York-based design studio focused on organic foods. The device is meant to keep plants healthy even in the clutches of the most brown-thumbed gardeners. Here's the company's pitch on Indiegogo:
Have you ever harvested your own fresh produce before? Perhaps you've tried and were unsuccessful. Maybe you don't believe you have the space or time to grow anything. With ROOT you can now grow seamlessly without having to weed or water.
Nothing can compare to the fresh taste or health benefits of eating straight from your own garden. ROOT will connect you with your food.
The skin of the mushroom-shaped apparatus has 16 pores that accommodate little seedling-filled pods. Dump water into the top, and it basically handles the grunt work from there: an LED light bathes the plants from above, shifting in intensity to match ambient light conditions, and a sensor will ping when the water runs low. Because this is 2014 and everything needs an app, Root has that, too: It tells gardeners when to add nutrients and allows the device to function like a timed, leafy nightlight.
Here's the prototype, which was 3D-printed with nylon: