The movement towards sustainable eating practices and farming has thrown a spotlight on the farm-to-fork journey. Increasingly, we are not just concerned with what is on our plate but with how it got there. That journey can now be measured in feet thanks to new at-home indoor farming systems.
From conventional manual watering systems to automated aeroponic, aquaponic and hydroponic systems, indoor farmers have a broad range of options for managing their own fresh food supply at home. Here’s what you need to know to get started.What is Indoor Farming?
Indoor farming might have been pioneered by big vertical farmers on a large scale, but that same technology is now coming into the home. Both commercial-scale and personal units offer a way to grow a variety of leafy greens, microgreens, herbs, flowering crops, vegetables and other produce in controlled conditions—helping bring fresh food to urban centers and food deserts.
Indoor growing is expected to be big business—a $40+ billion market by 2022. Not only does indoor farming lower food miles on essential produce, but it also reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides that can damage the environment and affect the overall nutrition of the crops. Crops can be grown year-round and faster. Plus, as any chef with an onsite garden can testify, there is no substitute for home-grown produce when it comes to freshness and taste.
Why Indoor Farm
Indoor Farming Reduces Waste
Even if cleaning our plates was ingrained in us as kids, we’re still causing dramatic levels of food waste. Over one and a half billion tons of food goes to waste each year and that figure is growing. The environmental impact of food waste is undeniable, contributing to 22 percent of all landfills and almost a tenth of all greenhouse gas emissions.
A huge portion of food waste takes place at the consumer level, with produce topping the list of items tossed aside. While the farming and food industries have their own battles to fight, shifting consumer behavior can be tackled at home. Purchasing only food we can consume before it spoils, prioritizing in-season produce, and overlooking minor imperfections on the produce we do buy are all small steps we can take to reduce food waste. By shopping at farmer’s markets, you can also help localize the supply chain, which means less waste at every stage from farm to table.
Now, imagine a world where you can plant your own produce, pick only what you need, and leave the rest growing. While this is presently available to those with home gardens, we believe it should be available to everyone. That’s what we’re building with Farmshelf.
Indoor Farming Reduces Water Usage
By 2050, over half of the world’s population will live in areas where the freshwater supply is under pressure. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water.
Traditional farming methods use inefficient irrigation systems that deplete and sometimes pollute the freshwater supply. As the global population rises, the evolution of growing food is a necessity if we want to sustainably feed the world and protect its water supply. With innovative hydroponic systems, a method of growing crops in a more-controlled water-based solution without the use of soil, growers are making strides in water-efficient farming.
Farmshelf technology takes hydroponics one step further. This smart indoor farm automatically delivers water and nutrients to your plants from a built-in water tank, giving your crops exactly what they need to grow. By optimizing water consumption, it uses 90 percent less water than traditional growing methods. And yet, your crops will be fuller in flavor and ultra rich in quality.
Now that’s something to talk about.
Indoor Farming Converts Miles into Feet
It’s key to consider the effect food transportation has on your meal, and the environment. The transportation of food has become essential for its consumption but often at the expense of natural resources. On average, produce travels 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your plate.
While Farm to Table restaurants and “Eat Local” slogans have been helpful in educating people about where their food is coming from, we can further reduce the mileage of our food by growing food at home. In doing so, we can cut down on the emissions caused by the trucks transporting food, the resources used to farm it, and the waste at every stage of the process.
Beyond the environmental advantages, growing food at home means fresher and oftentimes more delicious and nutritious produce right at your fingertips instead of right off a truck. Crops that travel from those far-away farms were once fresh but degrade throughout the shipping process and pass through people and places to reach you. Because of this, home grown produce is more nutritious. Many of us have never laid eyes on a fresh head of Red Leaf lettuce or smelled the scent of Amethyst basil growing in our very own kitchen, let alone tasted it. For most, the farm is counties, if not states away. A freshly harvested Farmshelf crop, on the other hand, is not only more convenient as it’s just steps away, but its flavor is unmatched.
Start Indoor Farming and Consider Farmshelf
When it comes to setting up your own indoor hydroponic garden or farm, there are plenty of options you can choose from, including small countertop units designed to grow just one crop (typically herbs or microgreens) at a time to systems that are fully integrated into your kitchen.
Aplug-and-play system like Farmshelf, however, is for those who are interested in the benefits of growing at home but lack the know-how or time – as no green thumb is required. Thanks to the smart indoor farm, growers just sow the seed pods shipped to their door, turn on the power switch and connect the system to WiFi. A fully automated process then takes control to monitor crops for water level, pH and temperature. Also, because it is a self-contained unit with its own refillable water tank, you can set up in any room of your home.
An Indoor Farming Future
The availability of fresh, nutritious produce is something we might take for granted, but there is a prospect of food shortages as the global population reaches some nine billion in 2050. Indoor farming is a positive step in securing a reliable food source, with the added benefit that it removes much of the uncertainty and risk from raising crops traditionally and the miles they take to get to your table. Farmshelf’s produce yield allows you to grow enough healthy and delicious greens to feed your whole family. And that’s something to celebrate.