A study produced by the United Nations predicts that by 2050, the world’s population will approach 10 billion people with 75% of them living in cities, completely reshaping the face of life on planet earth. These megacities will require vast resources to keep both their infrastructure and residents going, much of which will need to be transported in, adding traffic, noise and pollution to an already taxed environment.
How do we change this paradigm and turn our urban centers into self-sustaining entities? One thought is the development of urban agricultural systems, which the BBC reports have the potential to provide city dwellers with up to 50% of their food. The convergence of more people moving to cities and growing interest around increasing food security has designers cleverly rethinking the ways that growing food at home can become a reality for even the most casual of gardeners.
The consultants at PSFK Labs have released a new study called the Future of Home Living report. The report looks at the trend of Home Gardening and how compact gardening solutions are being developed to accommodate the time, space and resource restrictions of modern urban living, and are poised to become a key feature of home living.
An example of a compact urban agriculture system is the Click and Grow technology. Developed in Estonia, Click and Grow is a digitally-enabled gardening system for raising flowers, vegetables and herbs in a home or apartment. The all-in-one kit contains electronics, sensors, batteries,df a pump and water reservoir, while a replaceable cartridge contains seeds, nutrients and software (in a microchip) for growing the plant. The system measures how much water and fertilizer to an exact amount in accordance with the plant’s needs. After the plant’s natural life cycle ends, users can remove the old plant cartridge and insert a new one. The system has cartridges for mini tomatoes, chillies, flowers and herbs, and is capable of tending to itself over a long weekend or during a busy work week.
According to Matthiau Lepp, founder of Click and Grow, “Every year $42 billion worth of houseplants are thrown away because people just can’t take care of them. Rather than modifying the plants, we aim to build an environment in which they can thrive. We are not there yet, but each of our product iterations is a step closer to that goal and a source of funding for further research and development.”
In another example supporting the Home Farming trend, the Wormery is a modular self-composting system that incorporates a second species into the mix. Consisting of three trays stacked on top of each other, Wormery owners begin by placing worms in the bottom tray along with food scraps and rinds for the worms to eat. Once the worms have finished this food, they naturally migrate to the tray above which is stocked with peels and rinds for them to consume. Following the worms’ migration to the second tray, the first tray is ready to use as compost, and owners can tap into the liquid fertilizer which has gathered and drain it into a watering can.
New products like the Wormery and Click and Grow exemplify how the home farming trend integrates pre-existing practices (composting) or easily executed movements (a push of a button) with a new approach, fitting under a larger theme we call Equilibrium, which points to the way architects and designers are integrating feelings of balance, health, and well-being into people’s living spaces and everyday lives.
PSFK has announced the latest in a series of trend reports. Following studies into retail, social media, gaming, work and mobile, the PSFK Labs consulting team have generated the Future of Home Living report. That report manifests as a free summary presentation, an in-depth downloadable PDF and an exhibition in New York City that runs to August 16.
RSVP below to take a tour of the exhibition at 101W15th.