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An Origami-Inspired Greenhouse For Your Apartment

With the new Microgarden, a clear foldable kit to grow tiny seedlings, just sit back in your recliner and watch your garden sprout.

If you happen to live in an apartment with no access to a yard or even a balcony, growing your own food can be a challenge: Even indoor gardening kits like Windowfarms (a clever design that builds a full garden in a sunny window) take some skill and maintenance to get right. But things keep getting easier. The new Microgarden, a tiny greenhouse now raising funds on Indiegogo, might be one of the simplest of all indoor gardens to grow.

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“We wanted to make something that is very easy to use,” says Anna Glansén, a designer at Tomorrow Machine, the design studio that developed the Microgarden for INFARM, a Berlin-based urban farming company. “You don’t need a green thumb or any experience in growing, and you don’t even have to water your plants because the greenhouse is self-contained.”


The garden uses a single sheet of plastic that folds up, origami-style, into a protective cover. Inside the dome, seedlings grow in a seaweed-based gel called agar-agar that replaces soil and water. After taking a few minutes to set everything up, gardeners don’t have to do anything but sit back and wait: The kit does the rest of the work, and 5-14 days later, there’s a full crop of tiny plants.

The kit grows only microgreens–the tiny seedlings of any vegetable or herb, from beets to chard to basil–both because they grow quickly under a variety of conditions and because they’re as much as six times as nutritious as their full-sized counterparts.

Since both the greenhouse and growing medium are transparent, gardeners can watch every detail of the plants, including the roots, as they grow.

The designers think that using the kit will help shift how city-dwellers see food in their everyday lives. “We think growing your own food changes the way you relate to it and gives it higher value,” Glansén says. “You are much less likely throw away the food you’ve grown yourself.”

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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