Homegrown herbs

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You might not expect a conversation about the future of food to include IKEA, but during the London Design Festival, its Copenhagen-based innovation lab, Space10, had lots of folks talking about experimental indoor farm initiative Lokal.

Lokal is a system that allows people to grow and harvest greens and herbs indoors without sunlight or soil, making it a hydroponic system. The crops grow in water filled with mineral nutrients; the stackable trays are housed in a climate-controlled box, and the greens are grown under modified LED lights, allowing them to grow about three times as fast as they would in an outdoor garden.

As if the speed weren’t impressive enough, the researchers at Space10 report that the Lokal system uses 90 percent less water, creating less waste and eliminating the need for soil or sunlight as part of the growing process. Ultimately, they hope the Lokal experiment will offer solutions for food problems resulting from climate change and inefficient global food production.

While still in the trial stage, Space10 researchers are already exploring the possibility of introducing sensors to the system and connecting the data with Google Home. The sensors would measure and control the environment; over time, it would learn to optimize the crops for healthier, faster growth.

Lokal still needs to be developed further before IKEA decides to grow its own greens in stores — or roll out a similar system for home use. Still, it seems that the prospect of being able to grow food at home that tastes good, is more nutritious and is pesticide-free would hold considerable sway with today’s consumer, while also providing a chance to reduce waste in the food production cycle.

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