Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Farm For Your School: An Interactive Learning Experience

October is national Farm To School Month! To celebrate, our Agrow Cube has been installed at Pete’s Pumpkin Patch, where students, along with their families during the weekend or on scheduled field trips during the week, are coming to visit the Agrow Cube and learn about agriculture, business, and the importance of fresh, local produce.

The Farm to School initiative teaches the importance of farming in our communities and having access to fresh, local food, especially at school, where students can gain knowledge about the food industry and learn where food comes from. Having a school garden directly on campus provides several beneficial experiences for students. They can build  a positive relationship with healthy food; learn the difference between processed food and food grown naturally; and see the benefits of eating food that was grown locally.

Agrow Cube is an interactive small farm in a box. It can be integrated into a classroom to teach students about agriculture and running a small business, and give them a hands-on experience right there at the school. The cafeteria staff can also benefit from each Agrow Cube harvest with better access to fresh, local produce while teachers incorporate the interactive farm into their lesson plans.

Agrow Cube doesn’t use soil for its  plants, but instead uses the hydroponics farming method, which a water-based farming method. The water is automatically circulated through the pipe system by a water pump, and requires little maintenance.  This system is perfect for students, who can farm without creating a big mess of soil, water, and weeds. To learn more about hydroponics, check out our related blog post.

Besides being a soil-free farm, Agrow Cube is also insulated, which provides a farming experience all year round. Agrow Cube is a great tool for classrooms throughout the school year, because teachers and students can interact with the Agrow Cube during every season! To learn more about year round farming with Agrow Cube, visit our last blog post.

red basil growing in a hydroponics pipe setup
The water in Agrow Cube is trapped in the tubes, creating less mess.

The Agrow Cube can be incorporated into lesson plans in a variety of ways.

Discovery and senses

Young students can use their senses when learning about agriculture and  hydroponics:

Smell: Identify plants based on their scents (e.g., basil, mint, rosemary) and describe smells so that other students can find the same plant.

Touch: Touch the plants and feel the different textures to learn about new plants and how to care for plants without harming them.

Sight: Recognize different types of plants based on physical aspects such as coloring, leaf distribution, and size.  Students can also watch how the plants change during the different stages of growth. Students can learn how to recognize when plants have just been planted, and which ones are almost ready to be harvested.

Parsley growing in a hydroponics system, planted inside clay pebbles
Students can learn how to recognize parsley based on the shape of the leaves.

Biology

Students can see biology at work by tracking plant growth while controlling the amount of water, light, and nutrients plants receive.  They will be able to learn by doing: each student can be put in charge of specific plants that they will check every few days, track growth, and harvest themselves.

They can learn what plants need to grow with specific amounts of light, water, oxygen, and a certain temperature, and every plant requires different specifics. They can also learn about plant categories, similarities and differences between plants, and how many different plants can grow in one space.

Students can also recognize the different stages of a plant growth, which are seedlings, sprouts, and full harvestable plants. They can also learn to recognize the differences between healthy plants and ones that are struggling to grow. Then students can experiment with how to increase plant growth by adjusting light, temperature, nutrient, and water settings.

Seedlings growing in a rockwool cube.
Students can be in charge of their own individual plants from seedling to harvest.

Math and Business

Agrow Cube is designed to be treated like a small business. Therefore, it works as a great hands-on learning experience to teach students about math, business structure and management, economic systems, and marketing.

Students will be able to calculate the cost of supply and transportation, the time dedicated to running a small business, and how to review competitors in order to competitively price their harvested plants to sell to the school, farmers’ markets, or other customers.

The Agrow Cube also provides a good, interactive tool for teaching students how to be informed consumers. Teachers can separate students into groups of farmers and customers and teach them how to design business plans, ask consumer questions, and deal with issues that arise during negotiations and sales.

Global Awareness

Teachers can use the Agrow Cube to encourage discussions about the origin of food, the importance of access to fresh produce, and how food can be available in one area but not another. Students can learn about the history of agriculture in their home state, what is the famous food in the state, and how agriculture affects local culture.

Teachers can start a discussion about how some areas of the world have difficulty to access food, because of the different climates, and why it is important to shop food locally and in season.

Integrating Agrow Cube to a school means having the benefit of a small farm and a small business directly on the school premises, which provides students with access to agriculture, science, math, business, and cultural hands-on learning opportunities.

To learn more about Agrow Cube and the pricing, visit our website www.agrowcube.com, or call us today at (800) 356-8351.

Follow us on social media to see Agrow Cube in action and to receive regular updates about what we’re doing and where we will be: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Grow Up with Agrow Cube: The Benefits of Vertical Farming

Agrow Cube combines hydroponics and vertical farming inside an insulated box for year round growing. Plants are grown in vertically stacked layers, which enables you to grow more plants per square foot than the same space used for traditional farming. When vertical farming is combined with a hydroponics growing system, you can grow more plants in more places despite space and temperature limitations.

What are the benefits of Vertical Farming?

Perfect for limited space!

When you have limited space available, vertical farming is a great option because vertically stacked growing spaces means more plants can be grown in a small amount of space. This is especially important for urban gardening, where open land is at a premium, and building gardens up instead of out may be the only option.

Agrow Cube is designed for easy installation in urban areas: between buildings, in restaurant parking lots, directly on school premises, or on urban building rooftops. Its panelled construction means it can be installed in any location without access to a crane; each panel can fit inside a freight elevator and can easily be carried into spaces that are otherwise difficult to access. Agrow Cube brings a local farming into urban areas where traditional farming space is lacking.

Four levels of PVC pipes cut for growing plants in a vertical farming hydroponics system.
Taking advantage of vertical space by stacking the hydroponics pipes on top of each other

Grow more plants in less space

Agrow Cube uses vertical space so that you can grow more plants in a limited amount of space. The 10’ x 20’ Agrow Cube box can grow 2000 plants in only 200 square feet because growing spaces are vertically stacked to take advantage of the height of the box.

Interior shot of Agrow Cube with LED lights, plants, and hydroponics water system.
Agrow Cube can grow up to 2000 plants by using vertical farming!
Bring farming into the city

When  you install an Agrow Cube in an urban area, you bring farming into the city. Not only does the Agrow Cube give you room to grow a wide variety of plants in a small space, but it brings nature to places where green plants and fresh produce are limited. Too, it adds a natural aesthetic to the location; though Agrow Cube is a closed box, the exterior design can provide a clean, green visual element that  stands out against the surrounding buildings.

Who can benefit from using the hydroponics and vertical farming inside an Agrow Cube?

Agrow Cube is a sustainable source of food for several locations that lack access to a farm.

Urban Farmers!

With the limited space available in cities, Agrow Cube enables urban farmers to grow fresh produce right there in the city. Whether set up in alleys between buildings or on rooftops, Agrow Cube can fit into small spaces.  The insulated box will provide a year-round farming season to feed the entire building! To learn more about farming year round with Agrow Cube, visit our previous blog post!

Schools!

It is important to connect children with agriculture and healthy eating habits. (October is National Farm to School Month. For more information about Farm to School initiatives, visit farmtoschool.org.) Instead of taking time away from the classroom by  taking a field trip to a farm, why not bring the farm to school? Students can learn about farming, plant cycles, small business operation, and more in the Agrow Cube. It also provides steady access to fresh produce all year long.

Seedlings planted in rockwool cube.
It is so easy to grow with hydroponics that even a child can do it!
Restaurants!

Restaurant cooks would love to have a steady supply of fresh herbs all year long! Agrow Cube can be installed behind a restaurant, in a parking lot, or in an alley, and provides access to fresh produce all year round. Farm to Table has never tasted so good.

Red basil plants grown in a hydroponics vertical farm.
Restaurant cooks can have easy access to basil and other herbs all year round.

Agrow Cube offers more plants per square feet than traditional farming does by taking full advantage of vertical space, and it can be installed in a wide variety of location, including urban areas with limited space. To learn more about Agrow Cube and all the different possibilities you can explore with it, visit www.agrowcube.com. Check out our previous blog posts on the benefits of hydroponics and how Agrow Cube can be used 365 days a year.

Don’t forget to  follow us on social media for regular updates about vertical farming and Agrow Cube! Facebook – Instagram – Twitter

Too Cold to Grow? Not with Agrow Cube! Hydroponics Inside an Insulated Box

In our last post, we talked about several benefits of hydroponics. These benefits are increased when you combine a hydroponics system with technology to protect your plants for year round growing. Agrow Cube does just that: it combines vertical farming and hydroponics with a weather-proof insulated box that enables you to benefit from growing in a hydroponics system 365 days of the year.

365 days of the year? How is that possible?

Agrow Cube is a self-contained agricultural system; it is a hydroponics system inside an insulated box. Because the insulated box is designed to keep its internal temperature steady during extreme weather, it is possible to grow every day of the year.

The Insulated Box

Render of an Agrow Cube hydroponics vertical farming system.
Render of the Agrow Cube insulated box and interior hydroponics system.

Agrow Cube uses the same technology that we have perfected for industrial coolers that must be kept at -20 degrees F  internally in extreme 100+ degrees F heat. Each box is protected from outside weather by a dense polyextruded composite foam shaped to the exact size of each panel, which provides far better insulation than spray foam. The 4” thick insulated panels securely interlock using a double sealed gasket and latch system. Agrow Cube is designed to protect your plants from extreme weather, hot and cold temperatures, and storms.

To learn more about insulated walk-in coolers, visit Snowman Coolers.

The Hydroponics System Inside the Agrow Cube

Perfect temperature

Agrow Cube gives you complete control over the internal environment through a split-system heating and cooling climate control unit, air pump and distribution manifold, water pump, and airstone and supply line. It captures the best growing day of the season — perfect sun, perfect temperature, perfect CO2 levels — and recreates it 365 days of the year even through hot summer days and cold winter nights.

Variety of plants growing in a hydroponics vertical farming system inside an Agrow Cube insulated box.
The hydroponics system inside the Agrow Cube
Perfect water

Agrow Cube uses the nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponics water system in which a continuous flow of nutrient-rich water runs over the plant roots, but the roots are not fully submerged. It uses a custom pipe and pump system to produce the continuous flow: the water cycles through the pipes, over the plant roots, and back into the water tank where you easily add nutrients and control the oxygen levels in the water. This system eliminates water and nutrient loss due to wastewater runoff, and gives you control of the nutrients, oxygen levels and pH of the water. The system is designed for easy maintenance.

Perfect light

Agrow Cube uses LEDs in its hydroponics system. LEDs provide the most control over the light spectrum and use less energy than halide or fluorescent lights. For lettuces, herbs, and leafy greens, Agrow Cube uses full spectrum LEDs. The lighting system enables you to set light and dark cycles to create the perfect growth environment for your plants.

Agrow Cube: A Self-Contained Agricultural System

Agrow Cube combines the benefits of hydroponics and vertical farming with a weather-proof insulated box to create the perfect growing environment 365 days of the year. With Agrow Cube, you can provide fresh, locally grown produce to schools, restaurants, and farmers’ markets all year long.

To learn more about how Agrow Cube can help you take advantage of the benefits of hydroponics, visit our website www.agrowcube.com and follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

No Dirt? No Problem! Better, Faster Growing with Hydroponics

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a farming method that doesn’t use soil. Instead, plants grow in a mix of water and nutrients. If you’ve ever regrown lettuce by putting the base plant and roots in a cup of water, you’ve seen hydroponics in action. Hydroponics systems bring gardening indoors. Systems vary, but include a grow space, a water system with nutrients added, and a light system to replicate sunlight.

Plants in various stages of growth in a hydroponics system.
Hydroponics system in action in the Agrow Cube

There are major benefits to using a hydroponics system:

Faster growing!

Plants in a hydroponics system grow significantly faster than plants grown in soil. This is in large part due to the efficiency of the hydroponics system. In a closed-loop hydroponics system, there is no wastewater runoff, and therefore no loss of nutrients. Steady access to water, nutrients, and oxygen supercharges plant growth. When plants are grown in soil, there is always some loss of water and nutrients, which slows plant growth.

Bigger plants!

The same control that enables faster growing plants also increases plant size. Because you control the water levels and nutrients, you can ensure that all your plants have the right nutrients to grow to larger sizes. In some instances, lettuces have grown 150% bigger than the same type of lettuce traditionally grown in soil.

Cabbage leaves grown hydroponically.
Our cabbage grown with hydroponics has grown a lot!
No weeding, fewer pests!

Hydroponics is lower maintenance than traditional farming and gardening. Because there is no soil, there is no space for weeds to grow, and no weeding is necessary to maintain your grow space. Your plants are better protected from pests when grown in an indoor hydroponics system. This reduces the time you will spend dealing with bugs, and enables you to avoid toxic chemical pesticides.

Year round growing!

In the right environment (such as an insulated Agrow Cube), you are no longer limited to certain growing seasons and can grow a wide variety of plants year round with a hydroponics system. This is possible because you control water, nutrients, light, and temperature.

Control over the growing process!

Having a hydroponics system at home is like playing scientist. You have control over the water in the irrigation system, the amount and type of nutrients, the intensity and length of the light, and, in the right environment, the temperature. You control how fast or slow you want your plants to grow, and you have ample opportunity to make changes that affect plant growth in real time.

Up next, how Agrow Cube combines a weather-resistant insulated box with hydroponics to create an easy-to-use growing space. To learn more about hydroponics, visit our website www.agrowcube.com and follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.