The days of getting down and dirty in the garden are over. A new indoor food growing system allows users to Face Time with their fruits and veggies and even water them from afar with one click on the app. The SproutsIO system was developed by students at the MIT Media Lab so even those who live in cramped Willamsburg apartments can have fresh, homegrown produce year round. “Our hope is that it becomes a new kind of standard,” designer Jenny Broutin Farah, a grad student at MIT, told FastCoDesign. “We’re not saying people are going to stop going to grocery stores or getting food delivered to their homes, but we’re interested in providing people with an alternative.”
Homegrown fruits and vegetables might seem like an impossibility in a small apartment, but students at MIT are working on a way to garden successfully indoors with the help of technology — namely, with your smartphone, and with an indoor microfarming system called SproutsIO. This soil-free or aeroponic system consists of units that spray a nutrient mist periodically with the help of sensors, which are conveniently controlled by a smartphone app. The minimalist, white and silver units are equipped with lights and even cameras, so you can check up on them via Facetime when you’re out of the house (and if you’re feeling like a “helicopter gardener”). Creator and MIT grad student Jenny Broutin Farah explains on FastCo.Design that the idea was to streamline the DIY process and the vargaries of food-growing into something simple yet suitable for small urban spaces: Right now, you go to a DIY hobby shop or hydroponic store, and then read 20 blogs to figure out how to jerry-rig a home-growing system that looks like its piecemeal parts came from Home Depot. It’s like this weird science project in your home. We wanted to make something where you don’t have to do all that legwork.