Crowdfunding Platform: Bitponics Simplifies Hydroponic Gardening for Urban Areas

Hydroponic GardeningCrowdfunding Platform is a new series on Ecopreneurist that aims to help crowdfunding campaigns that have a clear environmental or social focus. Want to feature your campaign? Get the deets here!

Project: Bitponics, Simplify Urban Gardening

“Too many people are afraid to grow their own food.”, says Amit Kumar, founder, Bitponics and,  “Even more folks cannot due to limited land and space resources.” Bitponics was founded by Amit Kumar and Michael Doherty to help with just that.

The two Californians who grew up growing their food and working home gardens, missed plants and growing vegetables when they moved to urban New York City. Amit dabbled in hydroponic gardening for two years and met future partner Michael (who was probably doing the same things during that time!) at a drop-in class at NYU. They had similar interests and ideas-that hydroponics (growing plants without soil, using a nutrient-rich medium) and software is a win-win combination.

“Our main goal is to make easy for everyone to grow their own food”, says Amit. The duo feel that with a little support and technology, growing food in urban spaces can become a reality.

What is your project all about?
Bitponics is a project to simplify hydroponic gardening. There are two parts: (1) a device with environmental sensors and power outlets for pumps & lights, and (2) a cloud-based web service that lets you manage your garden, visualize sensor data, control pumps and lights, and share your experiences with other members of the Bitponics community. The central idea is that we will help users create a “growing plan” for their garden, which is a step-by-step roadmap for how to achieve the best possible results for their particular setup and plant selection. The growing plan specifies information like:

  • How many hours of light your plants need per day
  • What pH range is safe for your plants
  • When to replace your nutrient solution
  • What balance of nutrients to use for each growing phase
  • How often to run your water pumps

Based on the data the device sends to the website, we can send notifications back to the device, and to the user, on how to keep the garden within the growing plan’s recommendations. In a nutshell, Bitponics is your personal gardening assistant.

Why is your project relevant? 

Hydroponics is a perfect solution for increasing the amount of local, sustainable food grown in our cities. With hydroponics, more plants can be grown in the same amount of space, so it’s ideal where space is tight, such as in apartments or on rooftops. It uses water more efficiently than traditional soil gardening, since very little water is lost to evaporation. The drawback of hydroponic gardening is that it has a relatively steep learning curve. That’s where Bitponics comes in: we want to make hydroponic gardening as easy as possible, and make it accessible to everyone, no matter their experience level.

How you plan to accomplish that?

In addition to the ability to monitor and control your garden from the web, we want to allow people to share their gardening knowledge in a smart, structured way, so that it’s seamless for another person to pick up that knowledge and apply it to their own garden. That’s where the “growing plan” concept comes in. Community members can create and share their own plans, or apply others’ plans to their own garden. Growing plans can be rated for success and ease of use. So when someone asks “what’s the best & easiest way to grow tomatoes in my apartment?”, we can provide them with a community-vetted answer.
Link to your project campaign page

Your financial goal and the deadline

We have a goal of $20,000 by June 11, 2012.

About the Author

Hi there! I am Priti and I specialize in strategy and communications for impact organizations that aim to create social, environmental and economic wealth for all stakeholders. Working from the ground up, I help these do-gooders craft effective programs for community engagement, outreach and profitability. Follow my work covering do-gooders, cleanweb, start-ups and Web 2.0 businesses on Ecopreneurist and at Crowdsourcing Week. I enjoy traveling with my boys, cooking up a gourmet meal from scratch and entertaining! Join my community for Social Entrepreneurs on G+ Follow me on Twitter, on LinkedIn and Google+
  • While i like this idea in general there several flaws in the model. First off is that with such ‘community” based suggestions there will never be a consensus as to what settings are right for each crop cycle. Secondly such information already exists.

    Thirdly I hope they do not suggest using clear bottles for planters. Algae city is the result. The product as it looks is ugly and if there is one sensor needed for each container the cost will never be recouped by the end user.
    Good idea but not practical by any means

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  • what is that device. Is it kinda of like a solar panel … it powers up items that you plug into it? like the water and the nhutrients provide power? If so i belive the company that invented it could make millions!

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  • This is a fantastic idea! I would like to see this happen for new outdoor gardeners as well, though the electronics, if used, would be used differently.
    BTW, your ‘sample’ photo of a water bottle simply shows me your setup~It’s obvious that you don’t expect to feed even a small family using pop bottles! lol.

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