I, like many of you, am one of the two billion people
on Earth who live in cities. And there are days —
I don’t know about the rest of you — but there are days when I palpably feel how much I rely on other people for pretty much everything in my life. And some days, that can even
be a little scary. But what I’m here
to talk to you about today is how that same interdependence is actually an extremely
powerful social infrastructure that we can actually harness to help heal some
of our deepest civic issues, if we apply open-source collaboration. A couple of years ago, I read an article by New York Times
writer Michael Pollan, in which he argued that growing
even some of our own food is one of the best things
that we can do for the environment. Now at the time that I was reading this, it was the middle of the winter and I definitely did not have room
for a lot of dirt in my New York City apartment. So I was basically just willing to settle for just reading the next Wired magazine and finding out how the experts
were going to figure out how to solve all these problems
for us in the future. But that was actually exactly the point that Michael Pollan
was making in this article — it’s precisely when we hand over the responsibility
for all these things to specialists that we cause the kind of messes
that we see with the food system. So, I happen to know
a little bit from my own work about how NASA has been using hydroponics to explore growing food in space. And that you can actually
get optimal nutritional yield by running a kind of high-quality
liquid soil over plants’ root systems. Now to a vegetable plant, my apartment has got to be
about as foreign as outer space. But I can offer some natural light and year-round climate control. Fast-forward two years later: we now have window farms, which are vertical, hydroponic platforms for food-growing indoors. And the way it works
is that there’s a pump at the bottom, which periodically sends this liquid
nutrient solution up to the top, which then trickles down
through plants’ root systems that are suspended in clay pellets — so there’s no dirt involved. Now light and temperature vary
with each window’s microclimate, so a window farm requires a farmer, and she must decide what kind of crops she is going
to put in her window farm, and whether she is going
to feed her food organically. Back at the time, a window farm was no more
than a technically complex idea that was going to require
a lot of testing. And I really wanted it
to be an open project, because hydroponics is one of the fastest
growing areas of patenting in the United States right now, and could possibly become
another area like Monsanto, where we have a lot of corporate
intellectual property in the way of people’s food. So I decided that,
instead of creating a product, what I was going to do was open this up
to a whole bunch of codevelopers. The first few systems that we created,
they kind of worked. We were actually able to grow
about a salad a week in a typical New York City
apartment window. And we were able to grow cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, all kinds of stuff. But the first few systems were these leaky, loud power-guzzlers that Martha Stewart
would definitely never have approved. (Laughter) So to bring on more codevelopers, what we did was we created
a social media site on which we published the designs, we explained how they worked, and we even went so far as to point out everything
that was wrong with these systems. And then we invited people
all over the world to build them and experiment with us. So actually now on this website, we have 18,000 people. And we have window farms
all over the world. What we’re doing
is what NASA or a large corporation would call R&D,
or research and development. But what we call it is R&D-I-Y, or “research and develop it yourself.” (Laughter) So, for example, Jackson came along and suggested that we use air pumps
instead of water pumps. It took building a whole bunch
of systems to get it right, but once we did, we were able to cut
our carbon footprint nearly in half. Tony in Chicago has been taking on
growing experiments, like lots of other window farmers, and he’s been able to get
his strawberries to fruit for nine months of the year
in low-light conditions by simply changing out
the organic nutrients. And window farmers in Finland
have been customizing their window farms for the dark days of the Finnish winters by outfitting them with LED grow lights that they’re now making
open source and part of the project. So window farms have been evolving through a rapid versioning process
similar to software. And with every open source project, the real benefit is the interplay between the specific concerns
of people customizing their systems for their own particular concerns, and the universal concerns. So my core team and I are able to concentrate
on the improvements that really benefit everyone. And we’re able to look out
for the needs of newcomers. So for do-it-yourselfers, we provide free,
very well-tested instructions so that anyone, anywhere around the world, can build one of these systems for free. And there’s a patent pending
on these systems as well that’s held by the community. And to fund the project, we partner to create products that we then sell
to schools and to individuals who don’t have time
to build their own systems. Now within our community,
a certain culture has appeared. In our culture,
it is better to be a tester who supports someone else’s idea than it is to be just the idea guy. What we get out of this project
is support for our own work, as well as an experience
of actually contributing to the environmental movement in a way other than just
screwing in new light bulbs. But I think that Eleen expresses best what we really get out of this, which is the actual joy of collaboration. So she expresses here what it’s like to see someone halfway across the world having taken your idea, built upon it and then acknowledging
you for contributing. If we really want to see
the kind of wide consumer behavior change that we’re all talking about
as environmentalists and food people, maybe we just need
to ditch the term “consumer” and get behind the people
who are doing stuff. Open source projects
tend to have a momentum of their own. And what we’re seeing is that R&D-I-Y has moved beyond
just window farms and LEDs into solar panels and aquaponic systems. And we’re building upon innovations
of generations who went before us. And we’re looking ahead at generations who really need us
to retool our lives now. So we ask that you join us in rediscovering the value
of citizens united, and to declare
that we are all still pioneers. (Applause)

A garden in my apartment | Britta Riley
Tagged on:                                                                 

100 thoughts on “A garden in my apartment | Britta Riley

  • April 13, 2016 at 7:57 pm
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    Wow!! Awesome job Leading "Pioneers" =)

    Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 2:39 am
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    in my opinion it is another way of "greenhouse" hang on the windows and equipped with pump

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  • May 11, 2016 at 6:40 pm
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    Hi, i'm from Belgium and I love this idea and want to try it. But for some reason i can't get on the rndiy website and i really want to! Is the problem just with me or do other people experience the same problem? and can somebody maybe help me ?

    Reply
  • June 21, 2016 at 1:53 am
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    I also have a limited space and vertical gardening save a lot of space and budget wise all of my vegetables and herbs consumption came to my garden, a lot of savings in my pocket and always eat fresh. I have my compose bin, and saved me a lot, buying garden fertilizer are also expensive, using organic compose yield twice of the harvest. Gardening is so rewarding. Yes, hydroponic is also an options and this is an excellent idea for people with limited space. Post more videos about hydroponic. Thank you in sharing

    Reply
  • July 15, 2016 at 2:53 am
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    What if you have no electric for the pump to work then what?

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  • July 18, 2016 at 2:18 pm
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    Where is she now? You can't find her on the internet at all! No news about what she did with the fund raiser money also.

    Reply
  • July 24, 2016 at 6:19 am
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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windowfarm answers some ????

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  • August 11, 2016 at 3:16 am
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    Where can we find the water pump? Or how can we make a water pump and how to use it?

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  • August 23, 2016 at 4:01 am
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    Honestly you can do this without the pumping systems or anything powered. You can easily water indoor window farmers manually. You just need to know what you need nutrient wise.

    Reply
  • September 4, 2016 at 11:32 am
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    And really, no one suggested to use milk bottles instead of PET plastic? :/

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  • September 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm
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    Look at all those wires on her back. She's a ROBOT!

    Reply
  • September 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm
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    Be the change! I Will consider This once i get my own place great idea!

    Reply
  • October 18, 2016 at 8:55 pm
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    When she mentioned hydroponics and Monsanto I decided to turn off my YouTube, good night folks.

    Reply
  • November 30, 2016 at 9:59 am
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    People power doesn't lie within what you can force the government, or anyone else do, it lies within what YOU can do.

    Reply
  • January 9, 2017 at 4:57 pm
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    Britta Riley's Kickstarter was a scam. I donated over $100 for a window farm and she hasn't delivered to myself, nor has she delivered to HUNDREDS of international backers.

    Shameful

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  • January 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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    https://wn.nr/F66Yq7

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  • January 31, 2017 at 2:48 pm
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    no. 2 ye sal mera kasa jayega

    Reply
  • February 4, 2017 at 10:32 am
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    We apply Open Source principals to our food/medicine/eco start-ups, and it's great to see such a good example of crowd sourcing innovation; but what on earth happened to them? I can't find anything on Britta Riley or RNDIY and it seems from the comments she was either a scamster, a sellout or sued by big business? Very strange end to a too-good-to-be-true story. We need real solutions.

    Reply
  • February 8, 2017 at 11:10 am
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    TED talks have gone way downhill. R&D model of how to get it done for free.

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  • February 12, 2017 at 1:41 am
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    This is the NEATNESS thing i have ever heard of so wonderful &enlightening.

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  • February 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm
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    The website do not work 🙁

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  • March 15, 2017 at 6:57 pm
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    This is beautiful and amazing

    Reply
  • March 18, 2017 at 4:26 am
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    Was really interested in this, but after a quick Google search, it looks like heaps of Kickstarter backers never received their kit or a refund. The website is now down and Britta has disappeared. Disappointing.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm
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    ted talks are infomercials.

    Reply
  • March 29, 2017 at 9:54 pm
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    come and go. They watch few hydro concepts and try to summarize it, then pull "community patents. All those concepts shown on plans and amateur research she did her homework good and plants are for ppl not patents or kickstarts

    Reply
  • March 30, 2017 at 10:51 pm
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    wow😆 thank you😇
    my drim is a 🌎🌍🌏♻🍀🌱🌈🌞🌄🌅🌆🌃🌁🌈🐉💗🏆🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🎶💗💞

    Reply
  • April 3, 2017 at 2:26 pm
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    url does not work. Domain is for sale….

    Reply
  • April 4, 2017 at 6:42 pm
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    dude .. the sollution is to move out of the city and just grow in soil .. and stop exploiting soil for other purposes.. pff.Hidrophonic bullshit , plants like those aren´t supposed to grow in water!?

    Reply
  • April 5, 2017 at 9:28 am
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    Be careful; devious Governments want to build on what land we have that is still virgin. Window farming is OK but it is finer to grow food naturally in the soil as has been done for millennia. No matter how successful on the surface window farming aquaponics and tower gardening becomes; on a wholesome level naturally grown food will beat it hands down. One day people will look back and wonder how we could ever allow ourselves to be robbed of the fields and be forced to growing food in plastic bottles rather than in the good earth as nature meant us to do
    Return to the land and protect it; and you will protect your families future.

    .

    Reply
  • April 11, 2017 at 6:02 am
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    LOVE.

    Reply
  • April 15, 2017 at 9:45 pm
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    nice idea but this would never work in my place . my windows barly get 2 hours of sun a day in the longest days in summer so i need a grow light . this thing wont last a week in my place

    Reply
  • April 19, 2017 at 10:39 am
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    Awesome. How do I join this community?

    Reply
  • April 23, 2017 at 5:55 pm
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    Why would you need her products when there are millions of people building their own systems at home with minimal amounts of cash. She basically stole the ideas of other people for profit. It's not her idea at all. Anyone can figure out how to do this at home. There's so much information available on how to do this yourself. This woman is just a business woman looking to cash in on other people's ideas, and nothing more.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm
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    I got scared from the moment she mentioned MONSANTO and even WORST, PATENTS (the reason the world is stuck with fossil energy and any over revolutionary idea that is some companys draw, and you cant use it even if you invent it from your own mind)

    Reply
  • May 7, 2017 at 1:02 am
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    this makes me sick. This rivals the Makerbot opensource betrayal, though it seems more personal as it involves food.

    Where is the community now?

    Reply
  • May 14, 2017 at 10:03 am
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    The website is not working, it just shows ads related to similar stuff.

    Reply
  • May 20, 2017 at 4:35 am
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    So, let me get this straight. They took people's ideas from all over the world, had a kickstart account to raise money, patent it, and her & her associates are profiting from the idea by selling it 5-10x more than it would cost to "DIY". And all those people who shelled out money to "fund" this venture were left in the dust, along with the people who spent time and energy helping create the idea. Well, isn't that interesting?

    Reply
  • May 29, 2017 at 8:49 am
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    What studies I will have to do for learning this???

    Reply
  • June 4, 2017 at 8:18 pm
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    How disappointing. The website is now no longer working.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2017 at 3:12 pm
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    Is consumed electricity cost effective to grow the plant? Isnt it more expensive?

    Reply
  • June 14, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    I'll tell you what, and this isn't from someone who plays with trash to put food on the table (even though hydroponics is a great idea for herbs and cherry tomatos). The downfall to hydroponics large scale is the maintenance, and since it's liquid you're dealing with you need a "container" just as big as the system itself to use when the pipes need to be cleaned and whatnot.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2017 at 5:48 pm
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    So amazing!

    Reply
  • June 21, 2017 at 2:33 am
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    Hydroponic is not growing your food alone ,, you depend on the mass companies .. Monsanto is a bad evil company to our environment

    Reply
  • June 25, 2017 at 2:32 pm
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    You lost me at NASA

    Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 12:05 am
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    Michael Faraday was a born again Christian from 19th century England. It was through him that we have electricity and that our eyes were opened to electromagnetism. Yet, Michael Faraday was paid an inadequate wage by the Royal Institution and furthermore, he turned down lucrative consultation work in the private sector in order to devote his time to research which ultimately lead to the betterment of human civilisation.
    Why don't we have scientists and pioneers like this anymore?

    Reply
  • August 1, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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    Britta Riley , you totally look like Angie Tribeca actress Rashida Jones.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm
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    The idea is great, the program got fucked over for money. Whoops. Suppose I'll DIY-my-damn-self.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2017 at 5:40 pm
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    Boo for TED on this one.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2017 at 9:54 am
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    this is so sad 🙁 look this website: http://www.windowfarmsfraud.com

    Reply
  • September 30, 2017 at 11:42 am
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    Agenda21

    Reply
  • October 28, 2017 at 9:54 pm
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    Greath!! 🙂 Soon i go to live in Malta,and i try to make in my apartment and to share with you and all Plant people 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
  • October 30, 2017 at 5:26 am
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    I am headed in a different direction, I am eating native plants. They grow so easily that it is a bit of a mockery of the drudgery of gardening. I grow microgreens indoors all winter and eat greens daily. This year I added two wild tomato plants from cuttings from outside. Herbs all winter for cooking. I do have 9 windows and grow a lot of food inside. My saffron crocus is about to bloom and give me saffron, the most expensive spice, but I will plant nasturtium right afterwards for greens. This is fun, and I recommend any way that you like.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2017 at 2:53 pm
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    very nice

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  • December 30, 2017 at 3:42 am
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    Yuck!

    Reply
  • January 1, 2018 at 11:22 pm
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    This looks like a nice setup.

    http://www.windowfarms.dk/#post0

    Reply
  • January 9, 2018 at 4:03 pm
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    :30sec in and can't pronounce the new word you just learned, next.

    Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 4:50 am
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    thanks for ted talks…empowering innovations to make the a world a better place…more blessings from the almighty

    Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 10:20 pm
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    Please note that a tin can with a nail hole in the bottom and an edible plant in native soil is no muss no fuss no money. A can of spray paint will tart it up. Two cans, outside catches drainage and inside holds plants. I saw zillions in Mexican windows growing tons of vegetables flowers fruit. Millenials: please try not to make this too hard, and do not send money.

    Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 10:22 pm
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    Any little pot will grow beans. Edible greens as well as green beans and dried beans.

    Reply
  • January 24, 2018 at 1:07 pm
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    I am going to do this on a small scale.thank you for this 🙂

    Reply
  • January 27, 2018 at 9:01 pm
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    👏👏

    Reply
  • February 2, 2018 at 8:26 pm
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    Dear Lord, woman. It's just lettuce.

    Reply
  • February 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm
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    Growing food is the most important job in the entire world ! The day when children say they want to become a farmer when they grow up, that is the day you will know the generation is becoming wiser .

    Reply
  • February 6, 2018 at 8:16 am
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    Dont you mean he/she?

    Reply
  • February 8, 2018 at 5:13 pm
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    lol this is genius. im in

    Reply
  • February 13, 2018 at 4:31 am
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    EYah, love this ideal. I have garden ini room

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  • February 13, 2018 at 5:24 am
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    My roommate sent me this video last night and we are about to dive in on the idea

    Reply
  • February 18, 2018 at 3:04 pm
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    Very, very cool! Starting my own window farm soon.

    Reply
  • March 31, 2018 at 6:39 pm
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    So did this project come to a halt? Haven't heard, or website has not been updated.

    Reply
  • April 2, 2018 at 9:26 am
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    Hydroponics is bad for the environment, eventually this system needs to dump the unused liquid chemicals, plus acquire more water resources, the use of carbon energy which is not efficient.
    However,
    Aquaponics (hydroponics system using fish bio-waste for plant nutrients) this method recycles consistently. Heavy fish solids is reused in garden's & compost, also aquaponics feeds an ecosystem of fruits & vegetables. Whereas hydro fertilizer is sythetically designed to provide nutrients to 1 individual species..

    Reply
  • April 4, 2018 at 4:43 am
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    The best way is for her to act as a trader for growers and the marketplace. This could be extra income to a community.

    Reply
  • April 22, 2018 at 3:12 am
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    If you're at all interested in this (as I was) I'll save you some time. "Window Farms" went out of business but the community version can be found here: https://windowgardeners.org/

    See also:
    – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windowfarm#Controversy_and_complaints
    – http://www.windowfarmsfraud.com/
    – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/windowfarms/learn-to-grow-and-share-with-new-windowfarms/comments

    Reply
  • April 25, 2018 at 4:39 am
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    Anklebiter.

    Reply
  • May 12, 2018 at 11:44 pm
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    Interesting and very nice video, thank you for making it. We tried to make rectangular shaped garden pot for limited space in apartment – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBkxHtuJVrc

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 3:03 am
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    lmao these guys got nothing on the marijuana hydroponics hippie knowledge

    Reply
  • June 9, 2018 at 7:12 am
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    The plastic can leech into food items…

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  • June 12, 2018 at 11:38 am
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    We plant vegetables in our yard a habit passed down by my grandmother. In our school and house we use empty plastic bottles and cans as pot.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2018 at 1:53 am
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    Michael Pollen is great

    Reply
  • August 11, 2018 at 7:08 am
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    hy

    Reply
  • October 20, 2018 at 3:23 am
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    Everybody knows that hydroponic weed is very very different from weed that is grown outside. I believe growing food hydroponically is a mistake. Plants need the actual sun. We need the actual sun.

    Reply
  • November 8, 2018 at 12:34 am
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    Nub

    Reply
  • December 1, 2018 at 8:21 pm
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    The site is dead. Please anyone got new links ?

    Reply
  • December 29, 2018 at 1:57 pm
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    "she" whats with the feminist rhetoric….that ruins permaculture….i

    Reply
  • January 15, 2019 at 10:55 pm
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    does it work?
    rndiy.org

    Reply
  • March 6, 2019 at 10:47 am
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    Какой же сайт у них сейчас

    Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 7:27 am
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    So peaceful so full of life.

    Reply
  • April 7, 2019 at 7:15 pm
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    The rndiy.org website is gone.

    Reply
  • April 26, 2019 at 11:20 am
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    Great talk! Thank you

    Reply
  • May 26, 2019 at 6:34 am
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    #OpenSource

    Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 7:06 pm
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    Another person presenting a community enhancing idea when it was ultimately a lie and eventually a cash grab. A miniature Theranos. There's a theme there I think…

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 4:19 am
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    im so interested

    Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 6:53 pm
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    Grow your own! https://youtu.be/z9adoc2yaEs

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 12:11 am
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    exactly what ive been hunting for! i have idea to turn my apartment lounge into a mix of vertical window farming, inc on walls with LED lights, powered by gravity-fed hydro (archimedes screw/waterwheel, which also help transport n keep water flowing around my room, cleaning, oxygenating n filtering naturally for the fish which will fertilise the plants. im thinking to use bamboo 'pipes' as much as possible. 10 years ago, i asked to grow plants in the communal area n got denied (fire hazard -.-) i am concerned about condensation issues, but there's ways to mitigate this apparently (not looked into it as yet, just enough to see info out there)

    Reply
  • October 1, 2019 at 3:48 pm
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    ..who live in a pineapple under the sea

    Reply
  • October 1, 2019 at 6:05 pm
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    Well isn't this a sad story that had huge potential. I almost went home and started my own window farm wall.

    Reply
  • October 23, 2019 at 10:24 am
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    SHE should spend less time focusing on gender so SHE can spread her ideas faster

    Reply
  • November 2, 2019 at 11:20 pm
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    Amazing! The US government pays $25 BILLION in farming subsidies to non-organic farming. Time to make farming Earth-friendly and get everyone cooperating.

    Reply
  • November 19, 2019 at 6:04 pm
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    I appreciate your idea

    Reply

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