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VIF Series: The building blocks to co-found home-scale abundance

Highly modulable indoor growing systems to provide nutritious home-grown food while empowering youths’ eco-conscious learning experience.

Photo of Hadi Shamieh
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

16% of children in Quebec live in a food-insecure family. A petition has been recently launched to provide free lunches for students in public schools in Quebec. Despite it being a great initiative, a more holistic approach is urgently needed to build healthier generations for Quebec. Education is key to fundamental impact. The goal of this project is to make food accessible to our youth, and by our youth, through fun chore-less activities that brings value on multiple dimensions: Entertainment, Education, Connection, Prosperity.
With the combination of engineering, permaculture, architecture, and fine dreaming, we have designed sustainable and highly adaptable growing systems that produce high-quality organic food with minimal user-interference. Variable Interior Foresting (VIF) Series are naturally efficient. The design mimics nature by shape and performance. It allows self-watering and self-feeding in multiple dimensions. Soil moisture (irrigation) and light spacing are controlled autonomously through basic mechanical intelligence - no electronics. This makes the product affordable and accessible to individuals with zero experience in growing. Thus, ideal for school applications.
VIF Series are made of one main hexagonal block. Similarly to lego blocks, they can be assembled creatively. Students can enjoy the activity of designing their own arrangement of blocks to fit any vacant space in their classrooms and school - be it corners, walls, or even ceilings! The hexagon sizes are variable so they can be creative in what they choose to plant, how they choose to plant it (upside down?), or what arts and crafts can apply.
The garden is designed by our permaculture designers to be free of chores: the responsibilities are limited to planting, interacting, and harvesting. By so, food insecurities are substituted with an empowered sense of accomplishment that fosters our youth’s exposure, patience, caring, and leadership.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our main beneficiaries are children and students in the age group 5-17 years old. The other beneficiaries are public schools that will host this project, or maybe even the VIF blocks on their own. Our indirect beneficiaries are the parents and the teachers that are equivalently exposed following the lead of creative little minds.
It is important to mention that this is not intended to merge growing into the school curriculum, but rather left as a fun activity on the side. It shall be the space where children are allowed to make as many mistakes as they wish, and be as creative with it as they please. It is intended to be a fun and smooth learning journey that educates anyone who chooses to explore it. Until they get the skills to succeed, they will practice their patience, and slowly take control of their food and embrace better lifestyles.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The uniqueness of VIF Series is that it is designed to be simple to understand and requires barely any maintenance. In addition to being self-watering and in all three dimensions, the potential of self-feeding may be unlocked through innovative plant arrangements optimized, following foresting techniques, to co-work as an ecosystem, increasing yield in lesser space. The hexagon shape allows hosting maximum plant species per area in the collaborative mini-ecosystem. In short, the VIF Series can grow almost anything, at ease, anywhere. Indoors, outdoors, ground up, ceiling down, through the walls… All possible with close to no growing experience required.
The unique advantage that our team has to implement this idea is that we are a multidisciplinary team of Engineers, Architects, Permaculture Designers, and Artists. We are all young leaders with conscious values. We are highly passionate about utilizing the knowledge we have acquired to build a healthier future.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.
  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

SFS Inc. is an organization (to be registered) that ought to change the relationship of individuals with organic nutrition through giving them the opportunity to harvest their own food while learning how it affects their lives.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we plan to register in the future.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

This project has been organically crafted after the collision of multiple projects. It started as a dream of a self-sustainable future in the mind of a shy, yet brilliant, lady. It was promoted and expanded by a confident young man. It intersected another young couple’s dream of designing systems of permanent abundance, and it was finally bridged to the world by a well-talented young architect.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is influenced by the fact that a good percentage of kids spend their school days without proper nutrition. This may have long term negative effect on their behaviors or emotional intelligence and psychology. Prosperity has been challenged due to lack of accessibility of food to school children - whether from economic burdens and lack of availability of good food. As humans, we have been very disconnected from nature, particularly from growing plants. Many of us commonly see them as “undesired conventional chores”. We wish to empower our relationship with plants through a very low maintenance system that is solely rewarding for individuals, communities, and the planet.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We are fortunate to have multidisciplinary partners. First, PraxEco, an open source research network with the mission of facilitating the transition to a self-sustainable future of regenerative abundance. PraxEco’s network of diverse volunteers offer contributions in multiple disciplines. PraxEco also ensures the eco-conscious development of our product. In addition, we are closely connected with SymBioSyn, an NGO building bridges between university students (starting from McGill University, Montreal) and ecovillages around the world. SymBioSyn facilitates the exposure of such high-impact innovation and fine tunes it with indigenous knowledge and practices. Another partner of ours is Sensorica, an open source hardware engineering network. Sensorica is a pioneer in prototyping as well as collaborative entrepreneurship, and plays a significant role facilitating technical support regarding relevant sensors and controllers: monitor and optimize temperatures, humidity, soil moisture...

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Children have the mental capacity to focus on new things free of external constraints. With this project, children are able to acquire a list of basic yet important life values: observation, patience, failure, the unpredictable nature of life, success, the abundant nature of plants, and the great feeling of celebrating together and sharing the abundant yields. Children are the young shoots of the tall trees that will lead our future. It is crucial that we educate and empower young minds.

Geographic Focus

Quebec, Canada.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project is implementable in less than 36 months. Further design and experimenting needed to fine tune the main elements of the VIF Series, and optimize its adaptability for school applications.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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