Vertical farming - a collaborative science experiment turned social enterprise

By Jacinta Penn

NZ $5,213 pledged


39 people pledged


8 hours left


NZ $5,000 minimum target


100 100% Complete

Pledges will only be confirmed if the target is reached by: 17/05/2021 at 9:00 AM (NZST)

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About

Vertical Farming - A Collaborative Science Experiment Turned Social Enterprise

Project 2021-01-28 11:59:56 +1300

We started out to solve one problem and realised we could solve another.

Donate now to help us build a social enterprise that designs agritech STEM kits for kids and agritech microbusinesses that upskill people as they earn.

In 2050 the Earth's population will increase by another 2 billion people. With pressure on our food supply already, and with the extremes of climate change and labour shortages affecting our outdoor farms, indoor farming can provide a solution to the world's food security.  Vertical farming allows us to grow alot more plants in a smaller area, indoors, using 90% less water and no chemical pesticides. However, the cost of the LED lighting needed indoors to grow the layers of plants makes it hard to make a profit. Additionally you lose the ability to use tractors for seeding and harvesting. I myself live in a rural area of South Auckland renowned for its soil and have been dispayed to see housing encroaching further and further into our precious agricultural land. That has led me to my interest in vertical farming. Originally I started with the following question:

Can we build a viable vertical farm with cost reducing technology?

But our end result is

How can we create, inspire and educate our tamariki and tangata with agritech?

As part of a Masters in Tech futures, I want to conduct a project to see if I can make indoor farming with artificial lighting more cost effective. Lighting is also commonly used in greenhouses now to increase productivity in winter. I have an idea of how to cut the cost of lighting without affecting plant growth. Additionally with the use of automation and robotics we can reduce the cost of labour for repetitive farming tasks while still leaving jobs for more skilled labour and automation maintenance.

The robotics provides an interesting social component. Not only can it take over with some of the more repetitive tasks, but it could possibly enable people with disabilities to work on the farm remotely.

This is where it gets interesting. Due to my background in learning design, I have interest from local high schools and teritary institures to involve students in the project to learn about automation and modern farming. There is also discussion on creating agritech STEM project kits for schools. And I have spoken with iwi about the potential for vertical farms to provide food, jobs and skills attainment opportunities on small plots of land not suited for traditional farming. Local farmers and agritech companies have offered to assist. This project is more than just science, or business - it's a collaboration of interested parties to bring innovation and change to Aotearoa.

There have been less and less kids, particularly Maori and Pacifica, moving into tech and agriculture after school. We need to ignite their passion for it, and show them the amazing things that are possible.

We are becoming a social enterprise - bringing automation skills to our tamariki and updating the skills of adults. 

I have completed the literature research, the project planning, and bought the insulated shipping container - it's time to test the theory.

 

I have set three targets; $5K, $20K and $80K.

 

Minimum target: $5K (Getting started)

With this we can start with a simple set up; electricity, mobile air conditioning, two hydroponics garden kits and the two lighting systems, one control and one experimental. Robotics work will be done on a pc based simulator.

 

Extended target: 20K (Advanced hydroponics and robotics trial)

Intelligent dosing unit, commercial air conditioning and an i-beam for robot arm travel. Short term use of a Universal Robotics arm to test automation of tasks. This will also give us the funds to start designing agritech STEM kits for schools.

 

Reach target: 100K (Full vertical farm kitout with robotic arm)

This would enable us to do a full kitout of the vertical farm and purchase a robotic arm to use in the farm. This would enable us to set up a social enterprise after the research is completed, around agritech, automation and robotics with an emphasis on skill aquisition for students and iwi.

 

Final note: Originally we had hoped to boot strap this experiment ourselves, but when Covid hit, we had a tough year and we had to just tread water for a while. I am hoping with the help of New Zealanders, we can get back on track and create what could be a real boon to our agritech industry and to our tangata, whenua and atua. 

Want to know more? Check out www.verbfarms.co.nz 

Comments

Updates 4

We made it to $5k! What a day!

16/05/2021 at 6:00 PM

What an amazing day. We had a final round of generous donations who helped us cross the finish line of our minimum target.

This will allow us to buy a mobile air con unit and the lighting we need. Every donation from now can go toward upgrading.

For instance we might go from manual measurements to a peristaltic pump which mixes the nutrients according to sensor measurements. 

Or the robot and an extra hydroponic kit we want to test for the kids agritech kit.

For those of you who have given, thank you so much. I will make sure your rewards come out to you as soon as possible. Or as soon as we have grown them!

For those of you who are following and haven't donated, thanks so much for your interest. If you would still like to donate, we have about 14 hours to go.

Donate, share, tell à friend. It's all appreciated.

Meanwhile.. I haven't been sitting back waiting. The marine ply flooring finally arrived! Since we are using a container due to lack of garage space, we need to put down new flooring. Construction materials are hard to get so we had to compromise a little and go for a 12ml ply but it should be OK as it is supported along the whole floor by steel t bars rather than occasional joists. We went for marine ply low emission so it is less affected by spills and safe in a enclosed space.

For additional waterproofing, I covered both sides. Unfortunately the custom cut lengths were 1cm too long and we need to do a little trim for a better fit. I really wanted to show you it ready to go but not quite yet.

But here is our progress so far. Thanks again! And please keep sharing. 

Halfway and agritech STEM project proposal under way

06/05/2021 at 4:42 PM

Thanks so much for everyone's contributions. We have hit the halfway mark with 11 days to go. It's looking really good. We have also caught the attention of some agritech groups, and we are currently working on our first proposal for an agritech STEM kit for schools, before our experiment is even finished! 

It has helped us immensely to define our mission further. We want to create a social enterprise that upskills our youth and inspires them into agritech careers and also creates microbusiness opportunities for adults that upskill you while you work.

We have added some great new rewards with leafy green packs people can buy for themselves or donate to charity. You have already done so much and we are almost there. If you could talk about us to one other person, or share about us on one social network, we can do it.

Nga mihi nui, ka kite ano!

Now with support from Artiminds for robot programming!

27/04/2021 at 9:36 PM

In exciting news, we are happy to announce the support of Artiminds in helping us with our robot simulation build. Figuring out how to do the robot has been one of the greatest challenges, since I don't come from an engineering background. I approached Artiminds because I was impressed with their step by step drag and drop programming style, with tool tips and integration with multiple robot systems. 

One of those robot arms in the Universal Robot series, one of which Callaghan has available for loan. So if everything works out, we will be able to build the simulation, and then plug in the robot and test it out. 

I was hoping at most for an education discount on the software. Instead Artiminds have offered to support me through the project, and offered advice on next steps. This is great news and sets us up really well. I have just ordered the CAD files for the items in our simulation.

Don't forget to keep sharing the link for our fundraiser with your friends and colleagues. We really appreciate your support.

Amazing progress - with build and fundraising!

20/04/2021 at 10:43 AM

It's been a busy couple of days and we are so grateful to all those who have contributed. We aren't waiting but are continuing on with the little things we can. Over the last few days I engaged my daughter to help me build our first hydroponic garden set. I had doubts over buying kits rather than doing something custom made, but have been pleased at how it has worked out, and it means we can concentrate on the tech, rather than the hydroponic build. Additionally I have set up a virtual machine and installed the UR+ simulator for the robotics sim. Now I need to create or find a 3d CAD model of the hydroponics garden so we can simulate planting on it. Busy, busy, busy!

Starting the next generation of builders/engineers!

Maddy opening the kit boxMaddyBuildingMaddyTrapped

The final result!

FinalResult

    Pledgers 39

    Elise Copeland
    2021-05-16 15:17:19 +1200

    "Sounds great Jacinta! All the best! "

    Tamara Liebman
    2021-05-16 14:16:26 +1200
    Melinda Mason
    2021-05-16 14:10:39 +1200
    Sara Nasiri Amini
    2021-05-16 13:39:50 +1200

    "Best of luck! "

    Kiran Hari
    2021-05-16 13:07:17 +1200
    Terry Evans
    2021-05-16 11:35:36 +1200

    "I’m a massive believer in this project. "

    Chris
    2021-05-15 11:37:34 +1200
    Maria Cassin
    2021-05-15 07:45:18 +1200
    Stefan Dragoi
    2021-05-14 19:41:09 +1200
    Val
    2021-05-14 18:41:39 +1200

    "Love the sound of this project. "

    Miranda Verswijvelen
    2021-05-13 12:18:54 +1200

    "Wishing you all the best Jacinta!! You're a superstar. Miranda"

    Amy Baker
    2021-05-13 07:52:13 +1200

    "Exciting idea! Good luck"

    Michelle Ballard
    2021-05-12 18:38:03 +1200

    "Congratulations, fabulous idea, keep going!"

    Bridgit Hawkins
    2021-05-12 16:45:45 +1200

    "Great initiative"

    Louise Duncan
    2021-05-11 13:16:32 +1200

    "I love the idea and the pledge me campaign. Very exciting and worthwhile entrepreneurs. "

    Sian Simpson
    2021-05-11 13:10:38 +1200
    Jeremy Negrey
    2021-05-08 15:28:21 +1200

    "Good luck!"

    Thomas Harding
    2021-05-05 20:40:57 +1200

    "Love your work team! "

    Francis Smith
    2021-05-05 14:57:58 +1200
    Matt
    2021-05-02 13:41:36 +1200

    "Great idea, best of luck."

    Lindsay Matthews
    2021-05-01 15:42:29 +1200

    "Jacinta great project look forward to the results well done Lindsay Matthews"

    Faye Hayman
    2021-04-28 15:55:18 +1200

    "Such a great project Jacinta"

    Tanya
    2021-04-27 23:02:00 +1200

    "Good luck,look forward to seeing the outcomes!"

    Claire McGowanPledgeMe Staff
    2021-04-22 18:19:07 +1200
    Anonymous pledger
    2021-04-22 15:42:25 +1200

    "Pleased to support ventures such as these."

    Lynere Wilson
    2021-04-22 14:35:36 +1200
    Daniel Rock
    2021-04-22 12:08:03 +1200
    Barry Pulford
    2021-04-22 10:21:18 +1200

    "This is a very exciting project and I wish you every success with the fundraising today, 22 April which also happens to be Earth Day."

    Alice Shopland
    2021-04-22 09:46:38 +1200

    "I'm excited about the potential for vertical farming to reduce negative human impacts on the environment and free up space for wilderness! "

    Tony Meyer
    2021-04-20 11:37:14 +1200

    Followers

    Followers of Vertical farming - a collaborative science experiment turned social enterprise

    Vertical Farming - A Collaborative Science Experiment Turned Social Enterprise

    Project 2021-01-28 11:59:56 +1300

    We started out to solve one problem and realised we could solve another.

    Donate now to help us build a social enterprise that designs agritech STEM kits for kids and agritech microbusinesses that upskill people as they earn.

    In 2050 the Earth's population will increase by another 2 billion people. With pressure on our food supply already, and with the extremes of climate change and labour shortages affecting our outdoor farms, indoor farming can provide a solution to the world's food security.  Vertical farming allows us to grow alot more plants in a smaller area, indoors, using 90% less water and no chemical pesticides. However, the cost of the LED lighting needed indoors to grow the layers of plants makes it hard to make a profit. Additionally you lose the ability to use tractors for seeding and harvesting. I myself live in a rural area of South Auckland renowned for its soil and have been dispayed to see housing encroaching further and further into our precious agricultural land. That has led me to my interest in vertical farming. Originally I started with the following question:

    Can we build a viable vertical farm with cost reducing technology?

    But our end result is

    How can we create, inspire and educate our tamariki and tangata with agritech?

    As part of a Masters in Tech futures, I want to conduct a project to see if I can make indoor farming with artificial lighting more cost effective. Lighting is also commonly used in greenhouses now to increase productivity in winter. I have an idea of how to cut the cost of lighting without affecting plant growth. Additionally with the use of automation and robotics we can reduce the cost of labour for repetitive farming tasks while still leaving jobs for more skilled labour and automation maintenance.

    The robotics provides an interesting social component. Not only can it take over with some of the more repetitive tasks, but it could possibly enable people with disabilities to work on the farm remotely.

    This is where it gets interesting. Due to my background in learning design, I have interest from local high schools and teritary institures to involve students in the project to learn about automation and modern farming. There is also discussion on creating agritech STEM project kits for schools. And I have spoken with iwi about the potential for vertical farms to provide food, jobs and skills attainment opportunities on small plots of land not suited for traditional farming. Local farmers and agritech companies have offered to assist. This project is more than just science, or business - it's a collaboration of interested parties to bring innovation and change to Aotearoa.

    There have been less and less kids, particularly Maori and Pacifica, moving into tech and agriculture after school. We need to ignite their passion for it, and show them the amazing things that are possible.

    We are becoming a social enterprise - bringing automation skills to our tamariki and updating the skills of adults. 

    I have completed the literature research, the project planning, and bought the insulated shipping container - it's time to test the theory.

     

    I have set three targets; $5K, $20K and $80K.

     

    Minimum target: $5K (Getting started)

    With this we can start with a simple set up; electricity, mobile air conditioning, two hydroponics garden kits and the two lighting systems, one control and one experimental. Robotics work will be done on a pc based simulator.

     

    Extended target: 20K (Advanced hydroponics and robotics trial)

    Intelligent dosing unit, commercial air conditioning and an i-beam for robot arm travel. Short term use of a Universal Robotics arm to test automation of tasks. This will also give us the funds to start designing agritech STEM kits for schools.

     

    Reach target: 100K (Full vertical farm kitout with robotic arm)

    This would enable us to do a full kitout of the vertical farm and purchase a robotic arm to use in the farm. This would enable us to set up a social enterprise after the research is completed, around agritech, automation and robotics with an emphasis on skill aquisition for students and iwi.

     

    Final note: Originally we had hoped to boot strap this experiment ourselves, but when Covid hit, we had a tough year and we had to just tread water for a while. I am hoping with the help of New Zealanders, we can get back on track and create what could be a real boon to our agritech industry and to our tangata, whenua and atua. 

    Want to know more? Check out www.verbfarms.co.nz 

    Comments

    We made it to $5k! What a day!

    16/05/2021 at 6:00 PM

    What an amazing day. We had a final round of generous donations who helped us cross the finish line of our minimum target.

    This will allow us to buy a mobile air con unit and the lighting we need. Every donation from now can go toward upgrading.

    For instance we might go from manual measurements to a peristaltic pump which mixes the nutrients according to sensor measurements. 

    Or the robot and an extra hydroponic kit we want to test for the kids agritech kit.

    For those of you who have given, thank you so much. I will make sure your rewards come out to you as soon as possible. Or as soon as we have grown them!

    For those of you who are following and haven't donated, thanks so much for your interest. If you would still like to donate, we have about 14 hours to go.

    Donate, share, tell à friend. It's all appreciated.

    Meanwhile.. I haven't been sitting back waiting. The marine ply flooring finally arrived! Since we are using a container due to lack of garage space, we need to put down new flooring. Construction materials are hard to get so we had to compromise a little and go for a 12ml ply but it should be OK as it is supported along the whole floor by steel t bars rather than occasional joists. We went for marine ply low emission so it is less affected by spills and safe in a enclosed space.

    For additional waterproofing, I covered both sides. Unfortunately the custom cut lengths were 1cm too long and we need to do a little trim for a better fit. I really wanted to show you it ready to go but not quite yet.

    But here is our progress so far. Thanks again! And please keep sharing. 

    Halfway and agritech STEM project proposal under way

    06/05/2021 at 4:42 PM

    Thanks so much for everyone's contributions. We have hit the halfway mark with 11 days to go. It's looking really good. We have also caught the attention of some agritech groups, and we are currently working on our first proposal for an agritech STEM kit for schools, before our experiment is even finished! 

    It has helped us immensely to define our mission further. We want to create a social enterprise that upskills our youth and inspires them into agritech careers and also creates microbusiness opportunities for adults that upskill you while you work.

    We have added some great new rewards with leafy green packs people can buy for themselves or donate to charity. You have already done so much and we are almost there. If you could talk about us to one other person, or share about us on one social network, we can do it.

    Nga mihi nui, ka kite ano!

    Now with support from Artiminds for robot programming!

    27/04/2021 at 9:36 PM

    In exciting news, we are happy to announce the support of Artiminds in helping us with our robot simulation build. Figuring out how to do the robot has been one of the greatest challenges, since I don't come from an engineering background. I approached Artiminds because I was impressed with their step by step drag and drop programming style, with tool tips and integration with multiple robot systems. 

    One of those robot arms in the Universal Robot series, one of which Callaghan has available for loan. So if everything works out, we will be able to build the simulation, and then plug in the robot and test it out. 

    I was hoping at most for an education discount on the software. Instead Artiminds have offered to support me through the project, and offered advice on next steps. This is great news and sets us up really well. I have just ordered the CAD files for the items in our simulation.

    Don't forget to keep sharing the link for our fundraiser with your friends and colleagues. We really appreciate your support.

    Amazing progress - with build and fundraising!

    20/04/2021 at 10:43 AM

    It's been a busy couple of days and we are so grateful to all those who have contributed. We aren't waiting but are continuing on with the little things we can. Over the last few days I engaged my daughter to help me build our first hydroponic garden set. I had doubts over buying kits rather than doing something custom made, but have been pleased at how it has worked out, and it means we can concentrate on the tech, rather than the hydroponic build. Additionally I have set up a virtual machine and installed the UR+ simulator for the robotics sim. Now I need to create or find a 3d CAD model of the hydroponics garden so we can simulate planting on it. Busy, busy, busy!

    Starting the next generation of builders/engineers!

    Maddy opening the kit boxMaddyBuildingMaddyTrapped

    The final result!

    FinalResult

      Elise Copeland
      2021-05-16 15:17:19 +1200

      "Sounds great Jacinta! All the best! "

      Tamara Liebman
      2021-05-16 14:16:26 +1200
      Melinda Mason
      2021-05-16 14:10:39 +1200
      Sara Nasiri Amini
      2021-05-16 13:39:50 +1200

      "Best of luck! "

      Kiran Hari
      2021-05-16 13:07:17 +1200
      Terry Evans
      2021-05-16 11:35:36 +1200

      "I’m a massive believer in this project. "

      Chris
      2021-05-15 11:37:34 +1200
      Maria Cassin
      2021-05-15 07:45:18 +1200
      Stefan Dragoi
      2021-05-14 19:41:09 +1200
      Val
      2021-05-14 18:41:39 +1200

      "Love the sound of this project. "

      Miranda Verswijvelen
      2021-05-13 12:18:54 +1200

      "Wishing you all the best Jacinta!! You're a superstar. Miranda"

      Amy Baker
      2021-05-13 07:52:13 +1200

      "Exciting idea! Good luck"

      Michelle Ballard
      2021-05-12 18:38:03 +1200

      "Congratulations, fabulous idea, keep going!"

      Bridgit Hawkins
      2021-05-12 16:45:45 +1200

      "Great initiative"

      Louise Duncan
      2021-05-11 13:16:32 +1200

      "I love the idea and the pledge me campaign. Very exciting and worthwhile entrepreneurs. "

      Sian Simpson
      2021-05-11 13:10:38 +1200
      Jeremy Negrey
      2021-05-08 15:28:21 +1200

      "Good luck!"

      Thomas Harding
      2021-05-05 20:40:57 +1200

      "Love your work team! "

      Francis Smith
      2021-05-05 14:57:58 +1200
      Matt
      2021-05-02 13:41:36 +1200

      "Great idea, best of luck."

      Lindsay Matthews
      2021-05-01 15:42:29 +1200

      "Jacinta great project look forward to the results well done Lindsay Matthews"

      Faye Hayman
      2021-04-28 15:55:18 +1200

      "Such a great project Jacinta"

      Tanya
      2021-04-27 23:02:00 +1200

      "Good luck,look forward to seeing the outcomes!"

      Claire McGowanPledgeMe Staff
      2021-04-22 18:19:07 +1200
      Anonymous pledger
      2021-04-22 15:42:25 +1200

      "Pleased to support ventures such as these."

      Lynere Wilson
      2021-04-22 14:35:36 +1200
      Daniel Rock
      2021-04-22 12:08:03 +1200
      Barry Pulford
      2021-04-22 10:21:18 +1200

      "This is a very exciting project and I wish you every success with the fundraising today, 22 April which also happens to be Earth Day."

      Alice Shopland
      2021-04-22 09:46:38 +1200

      "I'm excited about the potential for vertical farming to reduce negative human impacts on the environment and free up space for wilderness! "

      Tony Meyer
      2021-04-20 11:37:14 +1200

      Followers of Vertical farming - a collaborative science experiment turned social enterprise

      Select a Reward below

      Click on a reward box below, and you will be taken through the pledge confirmation process.

      Thank You
      Seed Your Garden And Ours
      Leafy Green 4 Pack With Nutrients
      Gardening Pack - Gloves And Seeds
      Research Summary And Farm Build Instructions
      Leafy Green 4 Pack Every Month For 3 Months
      20 Pack Leafy Greens For Charity Of Your Choice
      20 Pack Leafy Green Pack For Charity Of Our Choice
      Printed Certificate Of Thanks
      Green Shoots Leafy Green Seedlings Kit
      Personal Tour Of The Vertical Farm
      Hydroponic Kit 6 Pots
      Kitchen Herb Planter Box
      Hydroponic Slanted Kit 36 Pots
      Robotic Arm Donated To The School Of Your Choice
      Hydroponic Kit 12 Plants
      3 Tiered Hydroponic Kit 108 Pot
      Lunch For 4 And Personal Tour