windowfarms revived & what failed the first time

Have you ever thought about growing your own food? I have. But I generally am a lazy person, and maintaining a garden is a lot of work. Also, I live in a small city flat without a garden.

But a while ago, I saw a TED Talk about a DIY upcycling hydroponics system called ‘windowfarm’ for home use. Growing my own food inside my apartment sounds good, especially in this semi-automated way. I also like the concept of upcycling stuff you’d otherwise throw away. So, I was amazed. But not for long.

a short summary

In 2011, Britta Riley had the idea of cultivating plant foods in her 2-room apartment in New York. This led her to upcycle some plastic bottles into a vertical aquaponics system. She crowdsourced the processes of optimisation, which led to adaptation for various situations. The results were collected on the discontinued blog ‘’.

So the developments, tweaks and hacks of 40.000 people went into pdf instructions – which were to be requested via email – and, at last, a Kickstarter campaign.
Here’s the talk that started my original excitement:

what’s wrong with it

Apart from the ugly plant pots, a lot of other things are wrong with the Windowfarm Kickstarter campaign. A look at the comments shows that not only Canadian backers feel ripped off.  Non-American backers around the globe still wait for their deliveries, which were promised for the end of 2012! Some of them paid more than 300$.
Also, since the assembly manuals were only handed out via email, and only on request, it is difficult to find them on the net. Because the community platform is also offline, all the crowdsourced development work is lost, too. 

save the idea.

windowfarms revived & what failed the first time - coloursontheinside, redesign windowfarm, experiment, Arved,
I did it.

I originally liked the upcycling-DIY-opensource-attitude of the project. The concept is characterised by its simplicity, the simple versions can be produced for very little money. More complex designs can be automated to a large extent by means of installing a pump or even a microprocessor for nutrient analysis and addition.

So it’s plausible to revive the great Idea of the windowfarm.

One thing I wanted to improve in it is the connector between two bottles. Originally, it consisted of the original bottle caps and a piece of balloon. And since I’m into 3D-printing, I came up with a small connector, which only needs a rubber band as a gasket, keeping up the upcycling.

Do you want to build it yourself? You can find the windowfarm 3D Files on Thingiverse, and the assembly tutorial on Instructables.

So, how does your windowfarm perform? And what improvements do you think could be made? Drop me a comment!


One comment Add yours
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