Innovation That Matters

The plans provide instructions for a unit that can grow up to 120 plants in a space the size of a cupboard | Photo source HECTAR Hydroponics

Open-source project encourages people to grow food at home

Food & Drink

A hydroponics project hopes to empower people to build their own systems using free plans

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Spotted: Felix Wieberneit, of the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, was one of many people who took up gardening during the lockdown. It was so successful that he didn’t want to stop, and designed his own hydroponics system to allow him to keep gardening in the winter. He kept improving the design and eventually asked his friends and family if they wanted to try it.

The project, dubbed HECTAR Hydroponics, became part of an Incubator programme run by Imperial College London and sponsored by Huawei. The idea was to empower others to develop their own hydroponic systems, without needing to rely on apps, subscription services or smart devices by providing the plans free of charge and includes plans, videos, materials lists and a community forum.

The plans provide instructions for a unit that can grow up to 120 plants in a space the size of a cupboard. The design is fully modular and can be built using standard parts purchased from the local hardware store. Growers adapt the plans to suit the type of food they want to grow. The open-source project also allows people to share their adaptations and improvements to the design with others, creating a collaborative process.

Wieberneit told Springwise that, “At HECTAR we’re trying to nurture the next generation of growers by being open source about our learning, following in the footsteps of the Precious Plastic and Arduino communities who have revolutionized their own fields. We are determined to present hydroponics technology in an accessible and honest way, that doesn’t hide behind complicated technology jargon and subscription models.”

The lockdown did not start but has certainly raised the interest in home growing systems. In recent years, we have seen a big growth in the number and type of hydroponic systems. These include an underground farm designed for abandoned urban areas and a countertop garden.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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