Gardening at home is a satisfying hobby that creates local, healthy and sustainable produce. But as the cold weather starts to set in, gardeners may be planning, or beginning to clear out garden beds in preparation for next spring and also overcoming the end of growing season. Luckily, the fall and winter seasons don’t have to mean the end of gardening. New technology and smart designs allow for compact and affordable indoor gardening solutions all year long.
Unfortunately, a significant issue with urban indoor agriculture is that it is complicated. Nutrients, growing lights, starting seedlings, growing times… Home hydroponics are another level of gardening that requires learning curves that might limit interest and investment in a new system. But a new Toronto-based start-up is offering innovative solutions that take the barriers and guesswork out of hydroponic gardening.
The company, called Just Vertical, aims to become the Uber of urban farming. The driving goal is to enable anyone, anywhere to grow a portion of their own food regardless of having a “green thumb” or not.
How exactly will this be accomplished? The answer comes in two parts: FarmWalls and an Uber based business model.
FarmWalls are vertical hydroponic growing units that allow virtually any wall space to be used as a highly productive garden. FarmWalls use the latest LED technology and plant science to optimize growing conditions and plant productivity.
It doesn’t stop there – farm walls are exceptionally sustainable users of water. Compared to conventional agriculture, FarmWalls use 99% less water. No pesticides are used either. The plants absorb nutrients through water that slowly trickles down vertical towers.
The Uber-based business model
Uber’s business model opens up transportation service by enabling anyone with a car to use their own vehicle to make income. Just Vertical opens up the food production industry to enable anyone with a bit of wall space to grow their own food.
Customers can pay Just Vertical a monthly fee, rather than purchasing FarmWalls outright. This lowers upfront costs and allows customers to use FarmWall system without owning it. This product-as-a-service business model pressures Just Vertical to deliver exceptional service but also gives them an ability to develop strong relationships with customers.
Customers can choose from over 45 different plant varieties from strawberries to lettuce. Just Vertical will deliver these easily-transplantable seedlings so customers can get a headstart on the next crop.
Sustainability, Mission, and Values
The Halton Food Council and Just Vertical have a common mission – taking action to promote and produce healthy, sustainably sourced food. Halton Food Council’s values are the following:
- Right to Know — People have a right to know what's in their food and where and how it was produced
- Access — All people should have physical and economic access to healthy, local food
- Economic Viability — Local food businesses should be valued, supported and vibrant
- Sustainability — All sectors of society share in the responsibility for creating and maintaining a local sustainable food system
Just Vertical developed the 8 billion before 8 billion commitment which truly demonstrates a goal to change our food system in a positive way. The goal is: before the 8 billionth person is born Just Vertical will eliminate 8 billion food miles, save 8 million litres of water, and grow 800 thousand pounds of local sustainable food.
The synergy between the two organizations cannot be denied.
The opportunity for year-round sustainable food production is growing. Literally. Just Vertical will continue to expand their operations and their expertise and make fresh local produce available to anyone, all year long.
By Nate Van Beilen