Linnea Wolfe and her husband, Tarren Wolfe, were delighted to see their two young sons munching the fresh greens that the couple grew under lights in their Vancouver home.
The super-fresh shoots, packed with flavor and nutrients, were so popular with the family and guests that they disappeared in a snap.
So the couple hatched an idea for an affordable and efficient system to render a constant supply of greens: the Urban Cultivator, a fully automated, contained kitchen garden.
The residential model (there is also a commercial Urban Cultivator) can turn out eight different kinds of leafy microgreens, including lettuces and herbs, and even small vegetables such as mini-tomatoes and peppers.
“Our family’s personal favorite is the pea shoots,” Linnea says. “We use them as substitutes for salad greens and the boys love to munch them. We all like sunflower shoots.”
The couple also grows greens in Urban Cultivator units for smoothies and salads at their juice shop, Living Produce Aisle, located in Vancouver.
The sleek residential Urban Cultivator is 24 inches wide (coordinating with standard appliances) and fronted with a glass door. The device can be plumbed into a home’s water supply or act as a standalone unit.
“Most customers have them built in,” Linnea says. Cooks can customize by choosing which way they prefer the door to open and whether to top the appliance with butcher block.
Doors are sometimes custom etched (many of the commercial models sport a restaurant logo on the glass). Seeds, which come with an initial starter supply and are then sold separately, are non-GMO and free of sprays and chemicals.
The Urban Cultivator’s enclosed hydroponic system has computer functions that control watering and light cycles and fans for proper humidity and circulation. The homeowner adds organic fertilizer (included) once a week.
Harvesting is as simple as snipping the first five inches or so of the microgreen or tiny vegetable.
The nutritional benefits are impressive, especially since the greens are eaten almost immediately. And the taste, as any foodie can attest, is miles above supermarket greens.
The residential Urban Cultivator starts at around $2,500. The initial investment is quickly made up, Linnea says, with many families saving money in the long run.
At her home, for instance, Linnea and her family turn out fresh herbs and greens every five to fifteen days. In a month of growing time, the cost of the same greens, purchased at a market, would carry a price of $300-$400.
“And there’s no spoilage,” she adds, since every green is cut when the meal is being prepared.
The sustainability aspect – the low carbon footprint of cultivating organic greens in the home – is also attractive.
Linnea and her husband have a simple, straightforward mission: to create a sustainable way to grow delicious, fresh food that retains its natural nutrients and flavor.
As she says, “We are empowering people to have control over the food they eat by growing their own. If you have this in your control, it’s a wonderful thing.”
For more information, visit urbancultivator.net.
Image Credits: PHOTOGRAPH courtesy of urban cultivator.