An out-of-the-box ‘kitchen garden’ idea takes root

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018

Nitzan Solan, CEO, Living Box   -  Kamal Narang

With a compact Living Box, you can grow veggies at home — in water!

All you have is a studio apartment. And you detest getting your hands dirty. Yet, the idea of growing veggies at home fascinates you.

Well, now there’s help at hand. Enter Israeli entrepreneur Nitzan Solan, whose novel urban farming technique makes use of only water, and no soil, to grow plants. A liquid nutrient solution that Solan and her partner Moti Cohen have perfected can nourish the crop till it is ripe for harvest.

“It can sit in your living room, balcony or rooftop, and a solar chip mounted on the modular box can control aeration,” Solan tells BusinessLine.

Living Box, as the product and the firm are known, is based on hydroponics, a form of cultivation first perfected by Egyptians thousands of years ago. The plants grow in water when the right nutrients are added, explains Solan, a chemical engineer-turned agriculture specialist.

The dimensions of the modular, foldable Living Box start at 1 sq m. “If one wants a bigger, or a commercial-scale operation, many modular units can be pieced together,” she says.

Solan says Living Box can grow up to 30 vegetables at a time. “It is ideal for growing nutritive, leafy vegetables and exotic herbs that are expensive. My friends in New Delhi say they have stopped buying them for fear of pesticides and industrial toxins,” says the 34-year-old CEO of Living Box. “Imagine the prospects of feeding your family pesticide- and chemical-free veggies!”

The farming technique has won Solan and Cohen many awards for innovativeness and has helped them raise $1 million in funding.

Currently, 50 Living Boxes are operational on a trial basis in five countries: Nigeria, Fiji and Spain, Israel and the US. “We will soon add another 50,” Solan says.

Each Living Box costs a little less than ₹20,000 ($300). Solan saysveggies worth $400 can be harvested every year. So, auser reaps profits from the very first year. “The cost comes down from the second year on; the farmer only needs to buy the nutrient, which costs about $90,” she says.

Published on May 16, 2017

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