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This is Why the VeggieWall is Important and Will Have a Lasting Impact on the World: October 21, 2016 10:31
Today, I responed to a message on facebook and I want to share it with you. This is why we are so passionate about the VeggieWall:
LOVE all your questions! Fabulous. Thank you! The plastic we use is the same plastic used in current household plumbing. Yes, some plastics leach, we are super concerned about health and environment so we spent 3 years doing our research. Growing food is so close to our heart. My dad and uncle both passed away from cancer. I believe in people having the choice to eat the healthiest food and knowing what is in it.
Standard Seeds - Heirloom & Organic
The seeds are gmo free, organic and heirloom varieties... BUT because we want to empower people to grow their own food, we steered away from expensive "seed cartridges" and made it so customers can use ours or buy their own.
We Made The VeggieWall with Recycled & Waste Products
The black VeggieWall is made with 70% recycled plastic. The seeds sprout in coconut pucks, a waste product, instead of rockwool-yuck! Or peat moss. My understanding is we are depleting the bogs of peat, an essential material for that environment, so we steered clear from it. The plant pots are filled with recycled glass, rather than the standard clay, because why take more, when something already exists? Right?
Organic Nutrients So We Don't Lose Out On Taste Or Nutrition
RE hydroponics not tasting as good, it is possible, but that depends on the nutrients you use. We use the ONLY ORGANIC nutrients, not chemically synthesized fertilizers! And the taste is as good as when I had an outdoor organic garden. Much of our produce here in BC is grown hydroponically (you know, those cherry tomatoes in the plastic containers?) Our prototype owners are all about environmentally friendly lifestyles and health: vegetarians, nurses, biologists, vegans, physiotherapists, parents, gardeners, and very athletic outdoor, down to earth people. They helped us get it right and have been testing our prototypes since March of 2014.
Empowering People To Grow Their Own Food is our Mission
The goal of Green Thumb Technology is to empower people to grow food. It is for people that either do not have the time, know-how, or space. I live in a 500 sq foot apartment with no patio or outdoor space, Matt lives in a basement suite. We also live in dark, cold Canada (haha, this message was to a woman in sunny California) with a short growing season. It is also great for areas with water restrictions, as the recirculating water, uses 2/3rds less water than an outdoor garden. I could go on, as I am SO passionate about this and putting food back in the hands of the people... Feel free to contact me: email@example.com Again, thank you so much for your comments and interest. Sincerely, Jen Jen McGuinnessand Matthew Mei"
We need your help to make our dream come true and launch the VeggieWall. Please support our cause on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/691710933/veggiewall-the-urban-food-solution
Have You Felt The Squeeze at the Grocery Store? October 06, 2016 07:36
We have! Food prices continue to climb due to the impacts of climate change. For example, a case of lemons has gone up $20 US this year to $50 from $30 last year (AgPro Journal). The US Drought Mitigation Center said 2015 was the driest winter in the Sierras. What's that quote about insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results? It is time for change.
The Old Ways of Growing Food Are Not Working Anymore - We Have a Solution
California Drought - Irrigation Taps Turned Off
According to the BC Food Systems Network 67% of Canada's food is imported from the US and over half of it comes from California. Many states, Alabama, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho are also experiencing drought and crop failures.
Spraying Crops with Pesticides - If It's Safe to Eat, Why do These Workers Have Hazmat Suits On?
"Worldwide, more than 5 billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed onto crops each year, and more than 75 percent of the US population has detectable levels of organophosphates (OPs), which are among the most commonly used insecticides on American farms" (Mercola). Brain damage, coma, rashes, cancer, headaches, Parkinson's disease, the list goes on. Huh? What?! Organophosphate pesticides, first developed as a nerve gas in World War II, are the most widely used insecticides in the world. Remember that comment about insanity?
Control Over What I Eat - Urban Food Solution
The more food we grow, the greater our ability to reduce the impacts of industrial agriculture on the planet.
Rachel Carson linked pesticides to cancer in 1962 and as a biologist, studied the effects of pesticides on the surrounding environment: birds, water ways, insects, fish, etc. And yet, here we are in 2016. This angers me, but we all know the problems with our food systems, so let's talk solutions!
Organic, local farms, and growing your own. People across North America are getting creative and replacing concrete and grass with veggies: backyard, balcony, sidewalk, community plot, schools, rooftops - I Love it! I used to live in a very shady town home and now I am in an apartment without a balcony, but I still wanted to grow my own food, so we created the VeggieWall. Who is the VeggieWall for?
- It's great for people that don't have space or time for a garden
- It's great for people who do have a garden but want to keep growing throughout the winter
- It's great for people that do not know how to garden
- It's great for areas experiencing drought because it recirculates the water, using 2/3rd less water than outdoor gardening
- It's great for anyone that isn't already growing their own food or lives in northern climates where we have a short growing season
The VeggieWall - the Urban Food Solution
The VeggieWall will only be made possible with your help. Please check out our Kickstarter Campaign and help us grow our business and make our dream of providing people with an alternative that is healthy for them and the planet!
Thank you for reading our blog. This is part two or a three part series on why it's beneficial to grow our own food. Check out part one: your health.
How do we stack up against the competition? October 01, 2016 09:13
Thank you for reading our blog. We are 4 days away from launching on Kickstarter, October 4th, 2016 8 a.m. PST. After three years of research, development, and testing it was surreal submitting our campaign to Kickstarter a few days ago.
When we began researching and sketching ideas there were four indoor gardens on the mainstream market, and new concepts coming out regularly. Throughout the process of creating the VeggieWall, Matt and I have watched many more indoor gardens get developed. Each time I searched the internet for new indoor gardens, I took a sigh of relief that each new product was another counter-top garden or another large cabinet-sized garden, using pre-existing hydroponic systems. Clearly there is a demand for indoor gardens, but who has the counter or floor space? It was important to us to have a indoor garden that added to the ambiance of your home, so we invented a new hydroponic system.
We invented the Vertical Nutrient Cascade Technology
- Vertical. 24 plants in 2.5 square feet.
- Easy to use and gives you success with growing food even if you do not have the know-how. Our technology is your green thumb.
- Fits seamlessly in your living space. Stylish, slim, and artistic.
- Automated LED lights for growing plants year-round.
- Automated self-watering pump
- Wifi micro-controller connects to your smart device for growing tips.
Launching on Kickstarter Oct 4th 2016. Please support us and help us realize our dream of providing healthy affordable food for people.
Thank you for reading.
-Jen & Matt
The Story Behind How We Invented the VeggieWall September 26, 2016 10:05
Year 1 - July 2013
It began 3 years ago while I was researching how to make my balcony garden more vertical. I came across vertical living walls. Living walls are vertical gardens, most often using hydroponics - a nutrient water instead of soil. The living walls grow typical house plants. This got me thinking, can it be done with veggies?
More research led to discovering greenhouses grow food hydroponically and so does NASA. I called up my friend Matt and told him my idea.We started with sketches and bounced ideas back and forth.
Here's what happened next:
- Simon Fraser University Business Accelerator
- Meeting with an engineering firm
- Discussing with the National Research Council of Canada what was new & innovative about our idea. And what IS New & Innovative about the VeggieWall? All other indoor gardens use pre-exsiting hydroponic water delivery systems. Vertical is rarely used because it involves drippers or sprayers, which clog & plants die quickly without water. All other indoor gardens are big, clunky counter-top, tub & tower, or cabinet-style systems. Who has room in their home for that?! They also grow very little for how large they are.
We set out to invent a new vertical system that would not clog. The VeggieWall grows the most food in the smallest Sq ft and it it's modular. That's what's new and innovative!
- Over the past 3 years, there has been a big influx in indoor hydroponic gardens. They are all counter-top units or bigger. For the same price, and often cheaper, the VeggieWall is still the only vertical garden!
Fast forward to March 2014
We made the 1st prototypes in Matt's backyard and sold them to some willing tester candidates. We grew food indoors! Of course there were a lot of problems, it was a prototype after all!
The biggest problem was water flow. We tried using a drip and then a spray irrigation system. Both clog. Plants would die overnight or when we were at work, when they were cut off from water.
So we hit the drawing board. Lots of sketches and over a dozen different prototypes, we tried to find a way to create a high-flow vertical water system. Current hydroponics use horizontal systems that allow for high-water flow to avoid the clogging issues of drippers and sprayers. We had many unsuccessful attempts but we were learning a lot!
The Breakthrough! Fall 2014
One day Jen asked herself, "how does water flow in nature?" She had her answer right away and set out to test it. It worked! We hired a designer to help us create a 3D print and test it further.
Success with the design for the 3D prototype was short lived. We discovered that it was going to be difficult to manufacture. We needed to keep the water flow the same but change the way it was made.
Summer & Fall 2015 - the Next Breakthrough
More prototyping. We were getting closer. Matt's handy skills from years in construction and all forms of art really paid off.
The prototype family, Matt & I made by hand in his backyard. Sophie, Matt's wife is an architect and helped us draft up AutoCAD files, which we then took to a manufacturer in Vancouver BC. The VeggieWalls were made by hand and we sold these to early adopters.
Again, there were issues with the design, but we were getting close. Real close! Our prototype owners in the Yukon, Whistler and Squamish were growing fresh food in their homes throughout the winter!
Whistler - bursting with lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro - March 2016!
LED grow lights are very expensive. Using a pre-existing product was going to cost customers an additional $200, making the VeggieWall cost $550. It is really important to us to keep the cost as low as possible while providing a high quality product.
We met with an LED grow light specialist in Vancouver and discussed paying them for a consultation fee to help us source the LED chips and parts needed. The companies quote for their consultation, $100,000. Ya, that was a big "No!"
But we carried on. I researched LED lights. It took me about a month, but I was getting better at navigating the manufacturing world. I figured out what we needed and sourced a manufacturer!
September 2015 - Funding from the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC)
With funding from the NRCC we hired a design team from Emily Carr Art & Design University. Together, meeting every Tuesday morning, we spent the next 5 months finalizing the design and manufacturing process. This was a really rich experience for Matt & I to get to work with this team.
Lead Up to Kickstarter March-September 2016
The past 6 months has entailed meeting with local manufactures, receiving their quotes for production, choosing one, making our moulds and conducting a test run of the VegiieWall, which you see in our pictures now. We have sourced our LED lights, tested them, as well as all other components. The rest has been photo shoots, filming our kickstarter video, and filing our patent.
We are ready to bring the VeggieWall to you! We are really excited to see what you will grow in your homes, schools, offices, and cafes.
Help support our campaign Oct 4th and realize our dream of empowering people to grow their own food!
Growing Food: For Better Health, Environment & Society September 15, 2016 14:08
Grow my own food? Why bother?
Personally for me, I have many reasons. I can break them into 3 categories: my health, it's better for the environment, and social contribution.
Jen: Contemplation in the Bugaboo Mountains
I have experienced 2 close family members pass away from cancer. My Dad battled cancer for 7 years, in that time he changed his diet and experienced a quality 6 years before succumbing to the disease. I know a lot of you can relate. Eating healthy reduces our risk of diseases. Yes, of course, we are all going to go sometime... BUT, I am not just eating well to prevent disease, it goes well beyond that for me! It's more about the present. I truly believe in, and feel blessed about, being active, being in nature, and living a full life! Nourishing my body with good food allows me to have the mental, emotional and physical outlook to experience the best of life.
The BEST food, is food you GROW YOURSELF. Why? Plants like, leafy greens, loose their nutrients once they have been picked. For example, leafy greens can loose 50-90% of their vitamin C in 24-48 hours. The longer plants have to be shipped (I'm thinking boxed lettuce from California to BC), sit in the grocery store and in your fridge, the less nutritious value you get from them. We think we are doing something good, by eating a salad, but we are only getting a fraction of its benefits.
Picking fresh greens from the VeggieWall
Growing fresh means I can pick it and use it the same day, maintaining 100% of the foods essential vitamins and minerals! And WOW! Does it ever taste better!
Of course there are other health reasons that are important to me, namely when I grow my own food, I know what's in it. This is often the same reason I buy from local farmers. The organic industry does allow for certain pesticides to be used on "organic" vegetables. Did you know there are pesticides that are banned in Europe that are used in the US?
Lastly, growing your own food opens a whole new world of varieties of produce you can't find anywhere in the grocery stores. The heirloom and organic varieties that are available when you grow from seed are outstanding in flavour, look, and nutritious benefits.
Next blog, I will talk about the benefits to the environment in growing your own food. Until then, eat something fresh & get outside! Thank you for reading.
Jen, her dog Neve, and friends riding in an Alpine Meadow
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