Grove Labs: Radically Distributed Farming - in Your Kitchen

Grove Labs: Radically Distributed Farming – in Your Kitchen

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Grove Labs: Radically Distributed Farming – in Your Kitchen

Super interesting startup, Grove Labs is developing some really interesting approaches to radically distributing the way we grow food – in our homes. 

Check out this additional video for an overview of their solution:

And here’s more about them:


  1. How much energy does it take to grow a few tomatoes and the lettuce pictured? The calories provided in them to a human consumer are almost nil. You need to grow high-caloric foods like nuts and olives and high protein foods like beans. And then there are the energy foods, the carbs provided by potatoes and grains.

    Do you know how many calories you need in a day, a month, or a year? Do you know which crops produce the most calories per acre?

    I do believe that every little bit helps. So good on these guys. I encourage apartment dwellers to have balcony gardens and I’m a big proponent of rooftop gardens and even a bigger one of urban infill community gardens. 

    It’s pretty easy to apply some math here…farmers have been figuring out the calories per square acre conversions for centuries. That’s why pigs are so popular: they are great a converting scrap vegetation to calories, tasty, tasty calories.

    If a system like this encourages a few more techie white guys to grow and eat salad, well, that is  better than doing nothing. And maybe, as was the experience of the founders of this company, it will be the spark that gets them thinking about food production and alternate approaches.

  2. We are so close to affordable, automated set-it-and-forget-it home farming.

    An economical system like this to also produce complete proteins could trigger a whole new approach to ending hunger and malnutrition.

  3. I fully support the mission but I have a hunch the basic premise that home or personal based solutions are the key. It seems a bit too retro and too great a loss of economies of scale to expect everyone to produce their own calories.

    My hunch is a more community based approach where systems for hundreds, even thousands, of people at a time were built so that you got locally grown, distributed fresh food would leverage all the benefits and efficiencies. 

    Ideas like these –

    But I applaud their efforts of for some, maybe many, growing a little at home is both enjoyable and fruitful… but doubtful you could produce the 2k of calories a day, with the dozens of varied amino acids and spectrum of macro and micro nutrients needed to have a healthy life… variety in diet is key.

    Indeed a multi-layers approach is a great solution.

  4. it immediately set me off calculating how much total biomass could be grown – under truly optimal conditions – in a year round controlled vertical farm environment, at what cost in terms of lumens and BTUs per unit area – and then backing down from there to stuff people need to and or like to eat. That should show how big a grow-room I would need to maintain. I do not have the answer yet, but I suspect it is going to turn out to be bigger than my living space.

    I’ve spent the past few years working on a controlled environment commercial scale greenhouse (close to 3000 sf before you think vertical farming) that integrates transparent insulation and climate control (humidity scavenging) with cold storage.

    The ventilation system captures waste heat by condensing moisture from the air to heat the soil and irrigation water.

    It dramatically cuts the power required to heat a greenhouse and chill cold storage, and this year it got cucumbers and tomatoes to market in Ballard in May and in a season it generates literally tons of tomatoes and cucumbers (on plants that get 7-9 feet tall) but it will still need supplemental lighting – daylight extension – four months out of the year in the relatively benign climate of the Pacific Northwest.  

    Rough numbers in the calculation above start with the realization that each of us in the US eats around a ton of food each year … 

  5. Fascinating joe breskin … it is indeed becoming more feasible to grow nearly anywhere with advancements in LED lighting (e.g. ) and tech like aqua/hydro ponics.

  6. I am about to add some aeroponic vertical tube gardens in the greenhouse that will use piezoelectric foggers. The other lighting option – that may be a lot more affordable for the next few years at least as LED technology matures, costs drop and industry shakeout (hopefully) gets some of the bad players out of the lighting market – is overdriven fluorescent tubes.

    That is almost certainly what I will be running this fall to add artificial dawns and artificial sunsets. 

  7. An aspect I’m fascinated by is the ability to use specific frequencies of light that plants want and need and not waste the entire visible energy spectrum on them… hyper-efficient (PAR) and even the potential to have light recipes for phases of a plant’s growth optimizing attributes we want. 

    A lot of progress in the pipeline.

    I also like the steady progress of aquaponics that avoids the issues of salt build up with hydroponics and is another order of magnitude more efficient (don’t need to replace the nutrient solution as in hydro/aero).

    But all the experimentation is good!

  8. Sallie Alys Montuori may find this discussion as interesting as I have.

  9. Here’s a progress tour as of May 6th this year. Plants went in the ground the first (cukes) and second (tomatoes) week in March. 

  10. Outstanding, thanks for sharing Joe!

  11. Furthering the sharing of tech in play to provide more local food… this is a great project to watch –

    and out-of-the-box (or in-the-box in this case) thnking…

  12. FWIW, I am shooting for an installed pricepoint on par with a used tractor and a first year capital costs payback growing food, rather than pot 🙂

  13. Indeed but to make food growable in urban areas we’ll likely need soilless methods as well, not unlike these gen 1, 2 pioneers. Systems like this at The Grow Haus in denver… an area where you wouldn’t want to plant in the native dirt (industrial contamination, etc.)

    If given the chance a wonderful visit (I took a class there this spring, excellent).

  14. Another I find fascinating and I hope to visit later this summer… a great model to emulate, build on and distribute widely. 

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