The mint died the last day you were making mojitos on a hot midsummer’s night. The basil suffered the same fate when you were making homemade pesto sauce. And now you’re worried that the sauce you had planned for Sunday might kill all your sage.
You can see no future for the herb garden on your balcony, but there's a future for the one in your dishwasher.
It’s not a dishwasher, even if it looks like one. It produces fresh scented herbs every day, all year round. It’s called Micro Garden and it’s designed by Grundig, introduced to the public September last in Berlin. Three different sizes are available: large, especially designed for the catering industry, medium and small, designed as recessed kitchen appliances, the same size as a fridge and a dishwasher respectively.
It’s built like a cupboard, with one door or more, and different compartments allocated for different types of plants. The doors are in glass and each compartment is set at a different temperature and has its own water tank, both systems are connected to the household utilities and are regulated by the innovative appliance itself.
We’re not talking about alternative ways of growing plants, like hydroponics or isotonics, but of a pretty traditional approach after all. Assuming that you count as traditional using your iPad to prepare the seasoning for the roast potatoes and that in order to do so it’ll impart instructions to one of your appliances.
At the moment, Micro Garden grows herbs only. No flowers, bananas or tubers. You will still have to buy your potatoes at the supermarket. Although, your iPad prefers market produce.
Micro Garden is managed by a special app that, Deus ex machina, once you’ve chosen the setting for the type of herbs you want, decides when to water them, sets the right lighting and temperature and lets you monitor progress through a special camera incorporated in the greenhouse. The herbs will be ready about 10 days after you’ve planted the seeds in the tray.
First of all, because failure is out of the picture: your iPad won’t allow it. There are other great reasons too, like the satisfaction of growing up to eight different types of herbs, without wasting water and in a short space of time, something that cannot be replicated in nature (the herbs will be ready for the picking in slightly over a week).
You can use the herbs to season dishes thus reducing the amount of salt and condiments you might consume, and increasing too your intake of essential nutrients. Meat, salads, soups: you can show off your small greenhouse to all your friends, whatever their diet or lifestyle and can help spread this novelty too. In fact, do you really want to deny that gamification has managed to turn farming, one of the hardest occupations known to man, into a pastime for nerds?
Let’s face it, it can’t get more locally sourced than this. As long as you get your seeds from one of the many rejuvenated neighbourhood markets. Micro Garden by Grundig addresses an increased awareness that we should be downsizing the food production chain and a product’s life-cycle.
The idea is to grow, cook, recycle individually or in small local groups, resorting as little as possible to consuming perishable goods.
Is the self-sufficiency utopia becoming a reality? Are apps and technology – the development and distribution of which isn’t certainly without its costs – to be counted as the part of our global resources? Will gigabytes, devices and internet become water, earth and energy for the digital natives?
Giulio Iacchetti e Vittorio Venezia
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