Britta Riley Wants to Crowd-Source Your Kitchen Window
For the past few years, something has been growing in Britta Riley’s kitchen window. As co-founder and current CEO of The Windowfarms Project, Britta is a fully hands-on member of the research and development team. In fact, so is everyone else involved in the company – including the customers. As if developing ways for city-dwellers to grow some portion of their own food, in their own apartment, isn’t innovative enough, Britta and her team also built the open-source wiki-style business and product plans.
With Britta’s Windowfarms Kit, you can grow up to 25 fresh live vegetable plants—lettuce, herbs, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, peppers, kale, small squash, edible flowers, and many more—in a normal 4'x 6' window in your home. That could be a salad a week, all year round. Keeping in the spirit of collaborative problem solving, however, most versions of the kits available on their website do not include all the pieces you’ll need to get growing. Adding in your own recycled local materials and personal spin on the experience to the modular kits is an essential aspect of the project.
Conceived and incubated at New York City’s Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, the window farms were intended to simply be the first project to go through their experimental crowd-sourcing program R&D-I-Y (research and develop it yourself). The first iteration of the project included clunky fishtank pumps and lots of tubes but was subject to the ideas and suggestions of beta testers all over the planet, encouraging not just hyper-local food production, but critical engagement and creativity from the end-user. The project gained increased attention over the past year, and the resulting Windowfarm kits are something to behold. The Windowfarms Project has recently branched into educational kits geared for K-12 classrooms or college courses, and in-person workshops.
Hydroponics are gaining in popularity. Open-source software and community-based websites have been around for years, and farming has been a core element of civilization since we started walking upright. The combination of these elements into a creative, participatory, healthy possibility, however, represents a new way of looking at solutions.