My brother is the City Coordinator for Greenpeace New York, so he loves plants. We live together, so I’m surrounded by plants. When we first moved in, the sheer number of succulents along the window sill made getting some fresh air a delicate matter. I’ve accidentally knocked over dozens of them on separate occasions trying to break into or out of this apartment–before this post he only knew about two such occasions.

Then there’s the matter of the pitcher plant which has traveled from the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the living room in search of prime sunlight/humidity conditions. For as long as it was in the kitchen it made venting my incredibly smokey meat-cooking a matter of tense diplomacy. You can imagine how paranoia might’ve gotten to me:

My brother the vegetarian head of Greenpeace New York is trying to strangle me in my own meat-fumes by literally hanging this delicate plant over my head as I cook. Sealing the windows shut with guilt’s own dense foliage.

Gradually I’ve come along. The plants look nice, and offer some much-needed redemption in a city where almost everything falls somewhere on the gray-scale. Especially the jackets on the fashionistas who march onto the trains wearing 17 inch stilettos and sunglasses the size of which rival my dual-monitor display.

I now have succulents of my own, and we’ve since bought a shit-ton more plants. The more interesting of which include my brother’s Windowfarms. A product of a fairly recent kickstarter aimed at proliferating urban-farm(er)s.

You can find out more about the company here.

Windowfarms are a novel concept: grow your own food efficiently, even when you don’t have room. In a city where buying a head of lettuce can force you research more liberal lines of credit, growing vegetables in your apartment is a pretty attractive notion. So far, our vegetables are coming along well. windowfarmsYou can see the two towers on either side. Of course now the fucking pitcher plant is in the way again, but you get the general idea. The plants are arranged in towers because they are grown hydroponically. For 15 minutes every hour, per basic outlet timer, water is pumped from the reservoirs to the top of the tower and flows down through each plant. 

towersThe towers themselves can be mounted to the wall or just left by the window.

plantI’m not sure what plant this is, probably lettuce, looks like it would go well with steak. Notice the soil at the bottom is not soil per se, but a mixture of coconut grass and pebbles of some left-wing democratic variety.

kaleI hope this isn’t kale. It looks like kale.

plantproductsAll of the supplies.

timerAnd here you can see the pump which is subsequently connected to a timer. It’s a pretty powerful little thing. Granted you have all the tubes tightly fit together–which proved a pain for us–you can really shoot some water around. Shooting water around is one of those god-given joys reserved for those of us who have the patience to dick around with tubes I suppose.

So there you have it. It’s a reasonable process that takes up very little energy, and the plants have grown very well so far considering. That being said, we did receive some faulty/dead plants in the shipment.

I think the idea is: if every apartment had some variant of Windowfarms, there would be a whole lot more self-sufficient food production. Something that we’ve largely forgotten about as a society dependent on supermarkets. I don’t have the expertise to talk about the importance of self-reliance at length, but I might in a month or so. Seriously though, food is useful. Make some.

In case you missed it:

6 thoughts

  1. So, I think the first plant actually might be a berry. The leaves look very much like strawberry or raspberry leaves. The second is probably some form of lettuce and not kale. The leaves don’t look rough enough to be that disgusting vegetable. Also, this invention is pretty freakin’ awesome. Not just for urban live, but for anyone who can afford a yard. Lastly, I know it’s a bachelor pad, but might I suggest different height tables or upsidedown pots to give your plants some structure instead of just throwing them all over the floor. You could always just get one of those wheelie carts meant for the kitchen as well.


  2. Hey Kristin thanks for the comment. I’m not sure what you mean by all over the floor. The table is a little bit messy in this picture, but it was right after we had finished setting up. My brother puts a lot of effort into placing his plants precisely. His girlfriend also lives with us, so it’s not 100% bachelor pad.


  3. Great concept! BUT would invite people to make their own windowfarms and NOT buy from ‘Britta Riley’s Windowfarm’.
    Britta Riley, co-founder of the Windowfarms project had a great vision. Unfortunately, SHE did not fulfill her promise. Her project took place December 2011. More than two years have passed (now march 2014) and not only international backers did not receive their Windowfarms kit, but they are completely ignored. I am angry to see she is still trying to sell her product. This is called a fraud. I invite people to read the posts from angry international backers on Windowfarms Facebook’s page and make their own opinion. So yes, the idea is great but please don’t encourage the company mentioned at the end of this article.


    1. Thank you Clair, you seem to know more about her than I do so I’m sure you have some legitimate insight. Just for the record, our experience with this product was fine beyond a few damaged plants. Cheers


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