This past week our group has been researching what potential forms our project could take. We have started from the concept of edible architecture, and explored some of the possibilities contained in that vision.
For a while now, I’ve been interested in the trend towards low footprint living. This concept is being pushed from multiple angles; primarily the ever increasing prices of the housing market, but also the greater public understanding of our ecological footprint. One outcome of this are projects like garden/living walls which aim to stack green space vertically, both indoor and out, to make much more efficient use of the space to produce food and beauty in cramped urban environments. As reported in the Telegraph – Green walls: how to grow a garden vertically 1/2/2018  outcomes such as a reduction in staff turnover are reported for restaurants with adjacent garden walls, as well as a higher customer count. But exterior Green Walls have much more challenges than a normal garden because of their exposed nature.
Growing at home has all sorts of positive impacts to the user; they gain a greater understanding of their food, they get to eat much healthier food, and ultimately if they grow their own veg then they are spending pennies and not pounds. Then there are the mental health benefits associated with greenery and plant life, along with the responsibility of caring for a plant, which even at a low level of interaction still brings a sense of accomplishment.
Many people have therefore turned to interior gardening, using hydroponic micro-gardens. Ikea recently stepped into this market with their cultivation unit , and although it has provided a low cost entry point into the world of interior gardening it also has many problems. For example, one criticism is that all the plants in the device share the same conditions and nutrients. Meaning that while the conditions may be ideal for lettuce, the basil plants may rot due to the moisture level being too high. Ultimately one thing to learn from products like these is that there needs to be a way to create individualised conditions for the plants that you are intending to grow. This could be monitored and updated through automated processes using sensors and micro-controllers in a more sophisticated device. Many smart micro-gardens are beginning to appear on the market such as the Click and Grow: Smart Garden 3  which performs many of these tasks. Also a flurry of affordable sensors to track growing conditions in your garden are starting to appear at very reasonable price brackets. The future of the smart home will most likely include smart growing.
When trying to solve the problem of food creation at home, there is only so far that gardening alone can take you. So the group also investigated how key vitamin groups and protein could be cultivated. One of the most pressing issues of our time is the environmental, and moral impacts of industrialised meat production. Mycoprotein emerged as a serious alternative to this key food group. Produced from fungi this protein is already the heart of the household brand Quorn, but as a fungi it has the potential to be produced on a much more local scale. Another source of potential home grown nutrients is the production of algae. Already the company Algae to Omega  has developed a modular system for producing omega supplements from algae. There is the possibility to modify these techniques to create a system which can produce key nutrients within the home.
So my vision would be to create a dual green wall, intended for smaller living spaces such as a flat in London. One wall to provide veg and another to provide protein. The aim of this would be to provide enough food for a couple of meals a week, cutting down on the amount that the user would have to spend on food, and providing fresh and healthy ingredients for their meals.