TED Prize
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Agriculture Anywhere


Project Summary

Vertical agriculture technology to reclaim growing

Project Description

Our first prototype was built in the Hoogesschool van Amsterdam Innovation Lab. The first tests where performed in Mediamatic’s factory in East next to their aquaponics vertical farming project. The first public grow tests tasted at TEDxAmsterdam November2012, the concept is on display in The Hub Amsterdam after making a brief stop at the NEMO for Museum Nacht with NUDGE. Since the summer of 2012, Symbicity collaborated with a range of horticulture specialist and greenhouse companies to build pop-up vertical farms. The purpose is to re-package agriculture to make it relevant and interesting for the people in the city. Symbicity wishes to offer diversity of fresh living food right next to the consumer, for the people who wish to reclaim the power to grow.

What are the main takeaways from this story?

I was surprised how far I could get with my own money.

The people who have done the most to propel things further have asked for very little in return.

Technology is only one of the tools.

Describe a "good" failure in your process or explain how potential challenges resulted in opportunities to learn or grow.

The first prototype really really did not work. This little farming unit splashed water everywhere and I flooded the floors many times. I started this vertical farming project with no prior hydroponics building or growing experience. For me this process was humbling.

The leaking was pretty bad on the 2nd prototype. Custom built racking, still, water everywhere... The steel needed several adjustments, and then it worked. We had a design break-through to address the issues on the 3rd prototype, but water still worries me the most.

What was the biggest challenge or biggest surprise?

Winning the TEDxAmsterdam Ideas Worth Doing Award for the concept to re-capture empty commercial real-estate and re-purpose it for vertical farms. With nothing built beyond a pitch, this single event at an early stage opened so many doors to new ideas and possibilities.

Explain how to share this project with your community?

We are using urban space to build purple vertical farms in buildings. These vertical farms will grow food in any building, close to you for fresh harvest. This way we can share space to give our food room to grow. Wanna play with plants and tasty possibilities?