With Personal Food Computers, nerd farmers are finding the best way to grow


I’m Caleb Harper, principal investigator and director of the Open Agriculture initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Kent Larson courtesy of MIT Media Lab

In his book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, Barry Estabrook details how grocery store tomatoes are both less nutritious and delicious than those grown decades ago. Industrial farming now grows crops for yield, sacrificing taste and vitamins for an easy-to-harvest, shippable product. It’s why apples at your local supermarket are probably about a year old. Caleb Harper, a principal research scientist at MIT and director of the OpenAg Initiative, wants to use technology to grow food that’s healthier, tastier, and more sustainable.

“Growing for nutrition and growing for flavor, it’s not really something anyone does,” he told Digital Trends at the recent ReThink Food conference in Napa, California.

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Toshiba’s new vegetable factory to bring perfect produce to Japan

toshiba plant facotry

Toshiba plant factory

When you hear the name Toshiba, you probably think about electronics products like televisions and computers. Thanks to its CT and other diagnostic imaging machines and technology, Toshiba has made a name for itself in the healthcare industry, too. Now, the company wants to go further to promote their healthcare initiatives, by introducing 100 percent pesticide-free vegetable factories in Japan.



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NASA plans to grow vegetables in space

NASA is organizing the Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE) program that will send packs of seed material to the ISS.

When humans begin colonizing space there is one challenge we’ll be facing, how to get food to those colonies. The idea of farming in space is hardly a new one.  Astronaut Don Pettit successfully grew a zucchini, broccoli, and sunflower on the ISS, but NASA is now researching how vegetables may be grown in space for consumption.



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GrowUpBox: A shipping container farm that grows tilapia and salad greens

GrowUp’s Kickstarter-funded aquaponic farm is a circular ecosystem with 150 fish, all self-contained in a box.

At the Marlborough Playground in London this summer you’ll see a modified, upcycled shipping container with a greenhouse on top–dubbed the GrowUpBox.  It is producing both fresh vegetables and fresh fish, all in one compact set-up.



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Chef’s Farm – a vending machine that grows 20,000 heads of lettuce a year without sunlight

Lettuce vending machine

After a nuclear holocaust has blocked out the sun or rampaging zombies have taken over our farmland there is finally a device that will guarantee we can still grow vegetables in the dark. This Japanese lettuce-growing vending machinet doesn’t require sunlight (it uses fluorescent bulbs) and it can churn out a surprising yield of  lettuce: 60 heads a day, or over 20,000 a year.

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Singapore opens world’s first commercial vertical farm

Transplanting some leafy green seedlings at the grand opening of Singapore’s first commercial vertical farm.

Singapore is taking local farming to the next level by opening of its first commercial vertical farm.

Vertical farming is like skyscrapers with vegetables climbing along the windows or like a library-sized greenhouse with racks of cascading vegetables instead of books.



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Urban Cultivator compact garden


Fresh herbs taste better than their dried counterparts, and there is no denying that garden-fresh veggies are preferable to ones that have spent the past several days in a truck or on a supermarket shelf. People who are lucky enough to live in warmer climates can keep the fresh greens coming year-round, if they plant a garden. For those of us in colder regions, however, things get a bit more challenging come winter. We can rig up indoor herb gardens on windowsills or using full-spectrum fluorescent lights, but that can sometimes get a little complicated. If you can justify its price, however, there is an alternative – the Urban Cultivator. (Pics)

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10 best iPhone apps for gardening


Whether or not you’ve got a green thumb, these apps will help your garden grow.

Timing is everything as those who garden are well aware.  And a bountiful crop requires planning and organization.  For novice and advanced gardeners alike, there is always something that can be learned about getting the best from the earth. Following are 10 great gardening apps that serve that very purpose, and can help yield juicier tomatoes, more fragrant rosemary, and brighter hydrangeas.


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Prenatal Exposure to Pesticides Leads to Diminished IQ’s in Children

prenatal pesticides

The study found some of the risks that pesticides were already known to pose to children, including ADHD and learning difficulties.

It was reported this week by the Environmental Working Group that three studies published simultaneously all came to the same eye-opening conclusion.  The conclusion was prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides leads to diminished IQs in children between the ages of 6 and 9.


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