The Twirligro crowd fund (http://www.bloomvc.com/project/The-Whirligro-vertical-food-planter) aims to raise £4000 by January 19th to help fund an initial run of a new product aimed at the burgeoning interest in vertical gardening. With an emphasis on growing food as a way of contributing to sustainable food security, the product is one of several that have been trialled. Inspired by permaculture, biomimimicry and The Natural Step framework for sustainability, I have been working with design students from Edinburgh University Design School to come up with this new product. Each Twirligro will hold 24 plant pots (4”-6” dia) and will allow for the growing of salad crops, small root veg and herbs. I am aiming to develop a product that can pay for itself in one year or less.
The aim is to develop a new business model that abandons extended lines of credit, manufacturing and distribution and all the destruction that that mentality has brought. The idea is to develop a product that can be made closer to the market, using widely available and low-tech production processes. It is hoped that this will generate employment, increase the use of the product and begin to develop an example of another way of doing business. Naive? Possibly. Desperately needed….definitely.
The £4000 crowd fund, plus whatever else I can scrape together will be used to do an initial production run – maybe 200 or so hopefully. These will be sent out to crowd funders who have pledged the appropriate amounts plus made available to other people. I intend to find a suitable space to set up several dozen units to demonstrate the idea in action and gauge how useful they might be to community groups. Should it be successful, I will look at ways of leasing units to community groups in the UK who might want to start small-scale commercial projects. Other designs are in the pipeline but they require considerably more capital funding to bring the possibility of even limited production on line.
I have had interest from abroad and I intend to try to make the idea available at little or no cost as long as these groups can commit to a similar agenda of community growing. I am in touch with groups in South Africa and Los Angeles who I might try this with. It makes sense as I have no interest in selling to poor people who are trying to feed their communities abroad (not commercially viable anyway). If this can be done it will help to generate positive publicity for the idea of Whirligro and vertical farming generally.
The vertical farming approach will seek to generate compost locally which will then be used to grow the food. Used up compost will be re-composted using supplements like worm casts, EM Bokashi, rock dust, compost tea. The aim is to create a circular food economy that can be implemented on brown field sites that have no commercial or social utility. It might work. It’s worth a try and that’s what it’s all about.
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