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Healthy organic produce can be accessible for even the most financially challenged parent - this virtually free technique can help children to thrive in the first 5 years and for a lifetime...

This is a proven system for growing nutrient dense and delicious microgreens using almost exclusively materials available for free in the waste stream. It requires no dirt or fertilizer, no skills or prior background, could easily be taught via graphics. Parents and their children can grow their favorite crop every week for personal consumption or for commerce within their communities. It's super-scalable and can be localized to tastes of the local environment. This is for any economically constrained person who is looking to provide better nutrition for their family, or for a way to augment their income to meet other needs.

Photo of Ken Thomas

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Technically it's a hydroponic garden - but practically it' so simple the instructions can be conveyed via simple pictographs. And it's so cheap and reliable that anyone can be a productive gardner in a week for just a few cents worth of materials. So the benefits are:
- easy
- cheap
- reliable
- nutritious
- delicious
- fast

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

This will work virtually anywhere. You don't need a good southern exposure, just ambient light is fine. You don't need a yard - it will produce indoors or out - any horizontal surface can be brought into productive use.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

It's already been tested - thoroughly, and with a variety of seeds - arugula, buckwheat, herbs, broccoli, etc... I went to a Permaculture Design course in Mexico and showed the instructor the photos - he challenged me to prove it worked so I scavenged materials - using only a milk carton and some toilet paper - we grew a crop indoors on the main class table - far from any window and ate it on day 7.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

I'm just looking for exposure to people and places that could benefit from the idea. And of course I would like to stay involved to help refine the approach and localize given the constraints of any locale.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

Attachments (1)


Full pictorial of the planter and growing guidelines


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Ken,

Very interesting idea! You might like to check out the discussion going on around this idea and some of the links suggested in the comments section!


Photo of Ken Thomas

Hi Chioma, than you for your comments - really like your idea and packaging. I was targeting the truly impoverished and therefore striving for as close to zero cost as possible. I have similarly prototyped a version for the industrial world and for institutional use. The notion I had was that a commercially viable 1st world product could fund awareness, distribution, training for the "3rd world" product.

Photo of Chioma Ume

Interesting idea. I'm interested to know –what did you learn from the feedback that you got on the first prototype that you developed?

Photo of Ken Thomas

Hi - what I learned was that first world needs are very diverse and fickle. Some want a beautiful design, others a specific color, some want wall mounted, others actually have room on their counter. Some are valuing an item based on output, others are more interested in the convenience and ethos of growing your own choice of clean foods. So it was all over the board. Hard to please everyone, so I think you have to factor your distribution mechanism heavily into your approach (e.g. a deal with Whole Foods could at low margin dramatically increase your chance of a viral success).

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