Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vegetable Curtains (or DIY Window Farming)

"But I don't have a backyaaaard," is a total cop-out excuse not to try your hand at urban agriculture thanks to this hydroponic window garden system developed by artist-tinkerers Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray during a residency at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in New York. Of course, there are still plenty of other excuses not to tend a full-on vegetable garden, but if you can build a geodesic dome or trick out your bike in elaborate ways for Burning Man, then you can definitely pull together some plastic water bottles, PVC piping, net planters, and fluorescent light bulbs to reproduce this hanging Eden based on the how-to instructions provided by the Window Farms Project.

I ran into these futuristic vegetables at the Eyebeam gallery in Chelsea while visiting New York a month ago and had to use all available will power not to filch a cherry tomato or stuff a rabbit mouthful of tri-color kale when no one was looking.

Smaller, lighter crops like greens, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs work better than heavyweights like squash and melons in the delicate net planters placed in halved plastic water bottles. They grow in clay pellets that are fed from a top reservoir that drips down a mixture of water and added nutrients. A basin at the bottom catches unabsorbed water, which can then be sent back up to the top by a pump connected to a timer.

The research and collaboration that led up to what Riley and Bray are calling R&DIY, a super acronym that stretches out into "Research and Do-It-Yourself," was a kind of odd-couple pairing of hydroponic explorations conducted by NASA scientists and marijuana farmers. Or maybe not so odd, if you consider both groups as kind of spaced out (a small haha? yes?).

You can see more information and photos and join the project forum at the Window Farms Project site.


Anonymous said...

Great. My sister is teaching the world how to grow pot in their homes. Maybe you should do a post next on how to bake up crystal meth. I think pseudoephedrine counts as a vegetable.

kale daikon said...

Lose the tie, Alex P. Keaton. And try a hydroponic jalapeño pepper!

Cristin said...

Awesome. But perhaps not cat compatible.