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Urban Cultivator automatically grows greens indoors

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January 30, 2012

The Urban Cultivator is a computer-controlled hydroponic growing system for herbs and vege...

The Urban Cultivator is a computer-controlled hydroponic growing system for herbs and vegetables

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There's no question that fresh herbs taste better than their dried counterparts, nor is there any denying that garden-fresh veggies are preferable to ones that have spent the past several days in a truck or on a supermarket shelf. People who are lucky enough to live in warmer climates can keep the fresh greens coming year-round, if they plant a garden. For those of us in colder regions, however, things get a bit more challenging come winter. We can rig up indoor herb gardens on windowsills or using full-spectrum fluorescent lights, but that can sometimes get a little complicated. If you can justify its price, however, there is an alternative - the Urban Cultivator.

Putting it simply, the Urban Cultivator is an enclosed hydroponic system designed for continuously growing herbs and smaller vegetables indoors. An integrated computer controls watering and light cycles, and also activates built-in fans to maintain proper humidity and air circulation. Users are required to add supplied organic fertilizer once a week, and eat the greens when they're ready for harvest.

The consumer model, known as the Kitchen Cultivator, hooks into the home's existing power and water systems, like a dishwasher - not coincidentally, it is also about the same size as one, so it can be installed in the same sort of spaces. A bigger Kitchen Cultivator is also available, that doubles as a kitchen island. Both versions have caster wheels and solid maple butcher block tops, that can serve as food preparation areas.

Prices for the consumer model start at US$2,200 - your appetite for greens will determine how quickly it pays for itself. A larger industrial model of the Urban Cultivator starts at $6,000. It is already in use at several restaurants in and around the manufacturer's home city of Vancouver, Canada.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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13 Comments

Let me be the first to say it.

Perfect to grow your own stash!

Paul van Dinther
30th January, 2012 @ 04:19 pm PST

Too expensive, unfortunately.

Carlos Grados
30th January, 2012 @ 05:16 pm PST

A computer-controlled growing system? Love it! I wonder if it can be programmed for specific plant types.

Von Meerman
30th January, 2012 @ 08:02 pm PST

And the energy requirement? It's the natural way forward and should be able to grow a variety of greens

Dawar Saify
31st January, 2012 @ 07:58 am PST

Until the price comes down, I think for now I'll stick with the $129 small greenhouse.

Carol Yates Wilkerson
31st January, 2012 @ 10:18 am PST

interesting but can be replaced by $100 worth of water and light timers, lights, ply, etc.

jerryd
31st January, 2012 @ 01:39 pm PST

yeah...what about our "favorite" greens..could they be grown with one of these ?

Steven Murphy
31st January, 2012 @ 03:48 pm PST

That is an awful lot of money to spend to save a little work.

Slowburn
31st January, 2012 @ 08:17 pm PST

Nice idea and nice start, but an indoor micro-garden needs to be fertilized with recycled organic fertilizer http://bit.ly/y1IHgx . Peer reviewed academic research showed higher yield and higher nutrient content in plants fertilized organically. You can read a quick overview here, under "Why not synthetic fertilizer?": http://www.urbanfarmsorganic.com/facts.html

Hydroponics could be fertilized organically, but the ecologically sound choice is to use fertilizer recycled from food waste, in-house. Emerging technology is designed to turn waste to fertilizer in-house, effortlessly. This means free food grown in-house, and less waste exported from cities.

My company is among those developing such technology: http://www.urbanfarmsorganic.com

The other the ecologically sound thing is to make simple affordable technology, so that enough people can use it in order to have an ecological impact.

halayc
1st February, 2012 @ 05:31 am PST

I love all the new inovative hotels & new URBAN BUILDING Designs beyond any others in the whole wide world. Nobody can match their designs & or riches either? KEEP Up the good work to show the world what real money can buy!

Debra Rincon
1st February, 2012 @ 11:23 am PST

GREAT CONCEPT - BUT WHY ARE THE POSTERS SO NEGATIVE..... COME ON GUYS...WHY LOOK FOR THE DOWNSIDE TO EVERYTHING?

Ashley Nigel Kerr
7th February, 2012 @ 02:28 am PST

This unit is really poorly made, its really loud and looks like it was made in a garage, the glass door and chopping block looks nice other than that looks amateur, with holes cut in it that look like they used a steak knife. Plus the fact that it takes so long to grow anything eatable its totally not worth it. Also every time you re start your “crop” more like strands of grass!! you will need to mix soil up in a bucket and make a huge mess. This is why it does not work for a house http://www2.macleans.ca/tag/urban-cultivator/ read mclean review that Urban cultivator does not want you to read!! Also why would a restaurant want one of these? this is taking cooks time to plant herbs instead of cooking so you are paying cooks and su-chefs to play gardener, when organic herbs ordered from a supplier cost pennies anyways???? Chefs and cooks now need to get their hands and clothing dirty to plant crops while preparing your food disgusting, especially if you ever see the amount of mold and rot these things produce(weeks of constantly being wet produces Mold) the things they dont want you to see/hear

Jacks Teller
26th November, 2012 @ 12:18 pm PST

Hi Jacks,

First and foremost, we wish to express our regret that you are unhappy with our product, and more importantly that you feel we haven’t provided you with the customer service we pride ourselves on possessing. I am unaware of your previous calls to us, and I would love the chance to speak to you personally about your concerns. We do offer personal 7-days-a-week support to anyone, and you are welcome to call me direct with any questions or for support @ 1-877-352-0490 ext.101, Tarren Wolfe, Founder Urban Cultivator

To immediately address some of your concerns; however, I did want to stress that we spent a lot of time and put extreme care into the design of our appliance to ensure it worked both efficiently and quietly. We are proud and confident in our design and back it with a full, 3-year warranty on all its parts.

With regard to the length of time it takes to grow various herbs or micro greens, we do offer a wide selection of 20-30 various seeds with which you can grow 1-3 pounds of fresh greens/flat in as little as 7-10 days. For guidance and support in cultivating and growing your greens you may check out our website page that provides specific growing instructions or feel free to call us and we are happy to walk you through the growing process.

And with respect to using soil, you do have the option to not use soil and we would be happy to walk you through setting up your cultivator using a soil-free option.

We have received so much positive feedback and love from the numerous restaurants who have invested and now benefit from the use of an Urban Cultivator. Award winning restaurants such as Yew – Four Seasons – Vancouver, Oru – Fairmont – Pacific Rim – Vancouver, Sidecut Restaurant – Four Seasons – Whistler, Banff Convention Center, etc, etc). These restaurants have provided us with feedback that they can now produce higher quality, higher nutritional value and better tasting greens, which are free from pesticides or other chemicals, to serve to their customers. Another benefit they receive from using an Urban Cultivator – commercial model is lowering their carbon footprint by being able to grow herbs and micro greens in-house, year round. Their maintenance time is approx 30-min a week and to date we haven’t received any negative feedback from the chefs who use our appliance about getting their hands or clothes dirty from planting or handling fresh herbs as it tends to be therapeutic.

We truly appreciate your feedback and of learning your concerns, and would welcome the opportunity to speak to you or anyone with similar concerns personally.

Please call us 7-days-a-week at 1-877-352-0490

Thanks,

Tarren Wolfe

Tarren Wolfe
4th February, 2013 @ 10:36 am PST
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