Ag Technologies

Purdue startup put computer-controlled ‘greenhouses’ in kitchens

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University-affiliated startup that seeks to redefine “farm-to-table” when it comes to garden vegetables by delivering its first orders of an appliance that fits under a kitchen counter and grows produce year-round.

Heliponix LLC, founded by two Purdue University graduates, has begun taking orders on its GroPod, a dishwasher-sized device its creators believe will disrupt the landscape of how food is produced in the face of looming worldwide food shortages and increasing concerns about chemical runoff polluting water sources, rampant food waste and water supplies diminishing on a global scale.

“It’s great for consumers and for the environment,” said Scott Massey, CEO of Heliponix.

The Heliponix GroPod allows people, even those living in inner cities with no access to land, to create perfect climate conditions so lettuce, spinach and other crops can flourish in their kitchens without using soil. The Gropod uses aeroponics, an efficient form of hydroponics that mists the plant roots rather than submerging the roots in a nutrient reservoir. It also uses targeted light-emitting diodes that give off the optimal light spectrum for photosynthesis.

“Each Heliponix GroPod is connected to the internet through IoT software that eliminates the need to know how to farm by automating ideal growing conditions through aeroponics, which uses no pesticides and 95 percent less water than conventional agriculture. You don’t need to know how to program software, design hardware, or understand how to farm, the patented design has mastered that form and function,” said Ivan Ball, also a Heliponix co-founder.

The Heliponix GroPod recently won the Best New Tech Product award from TechPoint, Indiana’s technology growth initiative.

The GroPod also uses less energy than conventional farming and can grow crops up to three times faster. It also takes up no land and reduces the need for food transportation. The GroPod is self-cleaning and can be taken apart in less than 30 seconds to wash the pieces in their dishwasher.

The founders estimate most Americans would save enough money growing their own organic produce that the GroPod could pay for itself in a couple of years.

Consumers can rip off a leaf of lettuce while letting the rest of the head to continue to grow, even when it is the dead of winter outside.


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