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Be your own homegrown hero

Combat fresh food waste by growing salad

Combat fresh food waste by growing salad

It’s a common problem. You buy a salad bag from the supermarket, and within a couple of days, the crisp spinach leaves and rocket stems look very much like the sludge you find behind the washing machine.

Across the UK, bags of unopened salad are tossed straight into the bin, but how do we counteract this? Three students from Bristol University have invented a novel way to reduce food waste, and introduce the everyday shopper to a new kind of urban horticulture.

Jack Farmer, 22, from LettUs Grow helps us paint a picture of the challenges which face packaged fresh foods before we pick them up in the supermarket.

“Our food system is highly inefficient. Food is mass produced far away from the areas of greatest demand, cities, and as a result large quantities are wasted from farm to plate.

Jack Farmer (centre) and LettUs Grow

Jack Farmer (centre) and LettUs Grow

Consequently, consumers are increasingly separated from their food supply. This reduces food freshness and taste whilst, for example, requiring salad leaves to be disinfected in chlorinated water in order to reach the customer.”LettUs Grow

Whilst our understanding of food supply systems is becoming clearer, little has been done to tackle the widespread problem of fresh food wastage.

As a developed nation the UK produces a significant amount of food waste every year. When the data is analysed it is clear that the salad vegetable supply chain is one of the least efficient. In 2013 Tesco reported that 68% of the bagged salads they retail are wasted.

But how can we actually reduce these figures?

The logical solution is to grow food at the point of consuming it; in the home or office for example. After all, seeds travel far better than salad. However, lots of us are too busy or don’t have garden space for a productive vegetable patch, and the evergreen popularity of allotments mean many are sitting on waiting lists.

The LettUs Grow solution is to build products that grow convenient, fully automated food for the smartphone generation. Providing watering reminders and growing fresh, healthy produce within arm’s reach of the plate.

“These systems use hydroponic technologies (growing plants without soil) and energy-efficient LED lighting that are already revolutionising parts of the agriculture sector. We have integrated the tech into a single product making it more attractive, compact, and simple, in order to make sure that people can practically use it in their homes, in a simple and straight forward way.

LettUs Grow modelOur urban gardens are targeted at growing herb or salad plants in a compact space, independent of the need for natural light. Our vision is for everyone to be growing some of their own fresh food from seed at home, so no more salad bags are needlessly dumped into the bin.”

For people like me, whose horticulture experience consists of two withered branches encased in bone-dry compost on my windowsill, LettUs Grow has created a solution.

“We are building a web application to support our products, named the E-cosystem, that will allow users to track energy usage, set reminders of when to water & feed their plants, and allow users to feedback what works and what doesn’t to the LettUs Grow team.

We will package it all up and make that collective knowledge available to everyone – so we all know what plants to grow, and learn together. The LettUs Grow mission is to bring food production into cities, closer to the consumer, and begin to educate people about this brand new way of growing food” concludes Jack.


LettUs Grow

LettUs Grow is a biotechnology company on a mission – to reduce that colossal wastage and provide easy access to fresh, tasty greens for every home. Their solution is to provide urban gardens using a blend of LED and hydroponic, soilless, technologies that bring salad growing into the home.

What do you think of "Be your own homegrown hero"

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Carolynforsyth 4 years ago

Where can I buy it? It looks great!

Reply to Carolynforsyth
Fran 4 years ago

Sign up to find out – http://www.lettusgrow.org/#welcome

Reply to Fran
Fran 4 years ago

Next winter delivery according to:http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/lettus-grow

M van Loenen 4 years ago

Is Triodos Bank no longer on the side of all things organic?? Growing food with hydroponics is a No-No in organics. It is not sustainable and not allowed. Why is Triodos supporting this, do I miss something here??

Keith adsley 4 years ago

Great but you don’t need gadgets.i look online for cheap seed deals.just got 16 packets of mixed salad leaves for 25 p a pack.some old large pots that were being thrown by garden centres,some compost from 99p shop
Sow on a sunny windowsill sow a packet every 5 days so you have successional planting.
Set up a watering alarm on your phone,and all done
I specialise in using recycled materials in the garden and would be happy to do an article

Reply to Keith adsley
Fran 4 years ago

I think it’s the lack of kitchen window sill that is the problem this will solve for me, being an inner-city flat dweller