One of the biggest challenges that many Americans face when they move to big cities is buying fresh produce. Even with the widespread presence of Whole Foods and food co-ops in cities, eating healthy, fresh produce is mostly a thing of the urban rich. In response to the proliferation of urban gardening initiatives surfacing in cities in recent years, a startup called Aggressively Organic has developed planting pods to fight food insecurity in cities and address the rising cost of eating organic.
With the growth of other urban farming initiatives, multiple ways in which individuals can continue to buy fresh produce without having to cough up a fortune have popped up. The initiatives, which cater to a larger consumer group, meaning they produce fresh produce on a wide scale, are usually controlled rooms where fresh produce is grown and then sold to urban residents. Other initiatives, like Aggressively Organic – a name which is far too reflective of their products – work to encourage consumers to grow their own produce straight in their kitchen.
The pods, which the people over at Aggressively Organic call “Micro Dendritic Pod” or just the “AO Micro Pod,” can grow plants, flowers, and even trees with the larger sized seeds. The pods themselves are made from coconut coir, which is a product of coconut oil, and come with a growth medium and nutrient solution. Each kit, which is currently available for pre-order for $139, contains nine hexagon-shaped pods and a supply of 72 medium or large sized seeds.
Once the plants grow and the fruits or vegetables are ripe, people can simply pick the produce off the plant and reuse the pod with another seed. The company says that once the plant is harvested, one can continue to plant it year round, which is how it suggests that customers can receive a continuous supply of healthy, organic food.
Aggressively Organic’s pods, however, differ from other companies that are also working to find alternative methods of urban farming. According to the company, the AO micro pods require far less water and no pesticides to grow fresh produce. Unlike farming using hydroponic technologies, which requires pumps and water filters, Aggressively Organic says not needing as much technology significantly lowers the cost.
The availability of fresh, organic produce, which feeds into a bigger conversation around food insecurity in cities, is primarily a concern for low-income individuals who usually do not have access to these fresh produce due to its hefty price tag. Even the AO micro pods, which are marketed as being significantly cheaper than other home-grown fresh produce, are relatively expensive at $139.
To address this issue, Aggressively Organic has proposed a model that would allow low-income individuals to be supplied with six harvest-ready plants that can be exchanged up to 24 times every month at $50. They can also either pay for the six-pack of plants over installments or through the US government assistance program known as SNAP. Although this model could potentially work for both low and higher income individuals to benefit from Aggressively Organic’s technology, the model has not been finalized yet.