Nowadays, there’s any number of ways to have a hydroponic farm at home: wall-mounted gardens, countertop farms, and pillars that grow fresh greens. The latter is possible thanks to actress Zooey Deschanel’s new startup Lettuce Grow, through which she and her husband Jacob Pechenik launched the Farmstand, their take on a hydroponic farm.
Farmstand, which debuted at SXSW in Austin, TX in March, is a self-watering, self-fertilizing farm that grows in a pillar-like fixture made from recycled plastics. As of right now, the farms are meant for outdoors. Clocking in at a little over one foot wide and between four and six feet tall, depending on the model, the farm takes much of the guesswork out of growing by automating the watering and nutrient delivery process inside the pillar.
To set up a farm, there is a one-time fee for the hardware, then a monthly subscription fee for a grow plan that includes regular seedling deliveries along with nutrients every two weeks. If that seems like a lot, it’s because Pechenik and Deschanel are hoping you’ll use the farms every day to harvest food for regular cooking. Monthly memberships range from $49 for four growing levels to $69 per month for six growing levels. Users can choose from a number of different plans to get seedlings that best suit their needs.
Pechenik and Deschanel told INC that the idea began as a way to provide their family with fresher greens, and that going forward, their mission is to “allow people to grow at least 20 percent of their food at home.” To that end, plant varieties a customer will receive with their subscription are based on geographic location: an algorithm selects plants best suited to grow in, say, Texas weather. An accompanying app makes recommendations about when to harvest, add nutrients and water, and offers recipes and growing advice. And if you wind up needing more grow space, each farm is easily expanded by snapping another growing level onto the top of the farm.
Right now Farmstand is a little less sophisticated than other consumer-grade models out there in the sense that the plants still need natural sunlight to grow. According to the Lettuce Grow website, lighting kits for indoor growing are in the works, along with a wifi and cellular-enabled IoT device to better monitor water, pH, and power levels in the soil.
Farmstand won’t be the only ones pushing indoor hydroponic grow systems. In fact, there are already several options on the market or taking pre-orders that make the concept easy and easy to fit within even the smallest apartments, from the wall-mounted Herbert by Ponix Systems to CityCrop’s teeny-tiny countertop device.
Lettuce Grow is currently taking pre-orders for Farmstand.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the product as “the Farmstead.”