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Bringing Harvests Back to the Home

Lettuce Grow wants to make our food system more healthy, sustainable and fresh by bringing harvests into the home.

Photo of William Mills
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Lettuce Grow

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Los Angeles, California and Austin, Texas

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The average American patio or home, approximately 475 square meters

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The home is important to us because it is so absolutely vital for the American family–it is the central hub. The average American spends over 90% of their life indoors; it’s where they find refuge and nourishment. Half of all meals are prepared inside the home, and a healthy and environmentally responsible lifestyle must begin, and be rooted, there. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Studies have shown that the majority of Americans know that healthy eating habits and exercise are the keys to a long and healthy life. But about three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables and fruits. And most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

American homes are spread out across many different climates and topography, from mountains to deserts and lush forests to coastline. 

Half of homes in the US are in urban areas and the average American home is far away from farming areas and thus removed from good access to fresh food. Farming has been pushed farther away from city centers due to the high cost of real estate. 

The urbanization of America will only continue, as families are leaving rural areas behind for the ever-densifying cities. And the population needs a food system that can keep up with this, providing a healthy solution for people living in the urban centers. Everyone, no matter their background or environment, can benefit from fresher, healthier food produced in as sustainable a way as possible. 

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

One of the challenges our food system faces is changing the public’s mindset when it comes to eating healthy, getting people to see their health as an investment and not just choosing food that’s the most transactionally cheap option or that will provide the most immediate gratification. Raising the level of education and awareness surrounding the availability and vital benefits of fresh, healthy food can also present a challenge.

Changing American diets and food preferences can present a challenge. Our predilection for sugars, fats, and sodium can stymie progress with instituting and maintaining healthy eating habits. Not all American households have sufficient outdoor space compatible with growing their own food, and even if they do, there is the issue of the growing season for many Americans preventing them from growing food year-round. Furthermore, most Americans just don’t have the time or financial resources to learn to grow their own food and then maintain a consistently producing garden. Growing your own food using conventional methods is just not something that is attainable for your average person who don’t have the time, space, or knowledge to make it work.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Currently, we will be able to achieve 100% ROI after 12 months. And once we are able to increase awareness around Lettuce Grow and our food system, our production and distribution costs will decrease, which will lead to lower upfront investment and faster ROI.

Through an intense public education campaign involving advertising, marketing, and public relations efforts, as well as word-of-mouth momentum, we will raise the public’s awareness and education of how attainable and enjoyable a more vegetable-centric diet can be. As the public becomes aware of the ease, availability and inclusivity of the Lettuce Grow system, incorporating healthy eating choices into their daily lives will become a reality. Our system solves the problems of not enough space, time, or knowledge to grow your own food.  You can grow indoors with our lighting kits year-round; it only takes about 5 minutes a week for “farming” duties; and we help you every step of the way to ensure you have a successful harvest. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Lettuce Grow will provide a very realistic way to reintroduce everyday Americans to harvesting their own food at home. As people more into the cities and the strain on agriculture becomes even more apparent, this gives the consumer more control over and a deeper relationship with the food that nourishes them. Space, time and know-how are a concern for the average person considering growing their own food. But with Lettuce Grow, those issues are nonexistent. And people living in food deserts can incorporate healthy, fresh vegetables into their lives on a regular basis.

It’s also about empowerment. Consumers will be more knowledgeable about their food and have hands-on experience with real, fresh, healthy produce. This will empower them to have opinions and ask questions about where the food they aren’t growing comes from, and what goes into the process of making it. They will become an active participant in the discussion. Once they start asking questions and tell the market what matters to them, the rest of the system will begin to change in their favor. They will realize that they have all the power. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

In our vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future, everyone will have access to the freshest, most healthy food, regardless of income level. By keeping the cost of the Lettuce Grow Farmstand as low as possible, with varying size and financing options available, and by pricing our seedlings at just $2 each, we are working to make a healthy food future attainable for everyone. Lettuce Grow also offers an abundance of free resources and help options to make everyone a successful grower via the app and web.

Our Farmstands are made in the USA from BPA-free, ocean-bound recycled plastic. They’re self-watering, self-fertilizing hydroponic growing systems. With the Farmstand, you can harvest what you’d expect from 40 square feet of raised beds in just a 3’ by 3’ space. And it uses 95% less water than growing in raised beds, using less than 1 gallon of water to grow a head of lettuce. Watering is on a timer, so you don’t have to obsess about when the right time to water is. And the high-efficiency water pump in the Farmstand uses less electricity than a light bulb. And you can harvest your plants in approximately 3 weeks after they arrive at your doorstep as seedlings. That’s compared to 8+ weeks with traditional farming, because with this system plants grow >30% faster and we raise them from the first 2.5 weeks to seedlings before sending them to customers.

By growing only seedlings, as we do at Lettuce Grow, farms will be much more productive. They can grow 150 more seedlings than mature plants in the same time and place. This also means real estate isn’t as much of a factor, since less space is needed, and we can move farms closer to city centers, making the food even fresher. This will also decrease transportation costs, both monetarily and environmentally, since seedlings would travel much shorter distances in smaller packages and in regular vehicles that don’t require energy-consumer refrigeration transport. This will not only reduce the cost to the consumer, but also cut emissions and waste by 95%. Packaging, and all of the waste that creates, can also be drastically reduced. And there will be no need for preservatives to keep the food fresh.

On a broader note, Americans will regain the deeper connection with the food we eat. There is an understanding and appreciation for your food and the nourishment it provides when you’ve actually had a hand in raising it, in feeding it, in watching it grow. This will have an unimaginable impact on our eating habits as a whole, and can bring a much larger discussion about our food system and how we handle livestock and what we put in our bodies in general.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Dr. Kelly Gehlhoff

I am curious what you would spend the prize money on. I have been following your company's development and it seems Lettuce Grow is past the startup phase and spending a lot on marketing strategies... Interesting grow system model. Makes me wonder how scalable it is say for a restaurant supply chain or just home use.