Solutions for Self-Reliance

A Hydroponic Solution…


Years ago, disruption meant death. Today, we benefit from solutions that have been created for almost every problem. Including solutions to problems that don’t even exist.

Not every solution is cost effective. Not every solution is in your language. Not every solution creates a solution without (more) dangerous side effects.

But the beautiful part of resilience is that people are continuously searching for solutions.

You implement what is best for your family, and maybe even tweak / invent your own solutions based on what you see.

All of this will position your family for success no matter what happens around you.

Food and water are two resources your family can’t go long without. Aquaponics, aeroponics, and hydroponics all help you keep a consistent and quality supply of food no matter what happens at the neighborhood grocery store. Hydroponics is the ability to grow plants in a water based nutrient solution without soil.

It’s perfect for:

  • Space limited food production in urban/suburban zones.
  • Year round food production in harsh climates.
  • Controlled food production without pesticides or genetically modified contaminants.

A successful hydroponics company found it’s funding almost 2 years ago through Kickstarter.

This system, called Windowfarms, is a very simple product that allows people to learn about hydroponics and become accustomed to growing food on premises.

Crowdsourcing for Non-profit

Windowfarms is a small non-profit company, started by Britta that started as an online project to design a small hydroponics system for urban windows. It’s now relatively successful.

How did it get there?

The original “Windowfarms Project” squeaked out a win with a raise of $28,205 (with a goal of $25 k) from Kickstarter in January of 2010.  This led to a year of open source design which in turn led to a patenting process to ensure that the design remained open for use.  This was required because there is currently lot of patent activity by legal trolls from the “old dying system” in hydroponics right now, in attempt to “tax” attempts to become more resilient.

In the final phase, a scalable product design was selected and the product was launched.  It sold $257,307 of a new product to 1,577 people in December of 2011.

Here are the simple steps to building a venture like this:

  • Come up with an idea for a product/service.  The more narrowly focused it is, the better.  The easier it is to build DiY, the better.  If you can’t come up with a good idea on your own, find a group that is working on a good idea and get involved.
  • If there isn’t a group already working on the idea your are interested in, create an online group to work on the idea (discussion groups, blogs, etc. are cheap/costless to build) with you.  Chances are, if you are interested in it, there are thousands of other people around the world that are.  Recruit people to help.
  • Design, prototype and deploy.  Share ideas.  Collaborate.  Make the design better.  Help other people design a better version, they will help you.
  • Once you think you have a great design, build a prototype, source the manufacturing (if it can be done locally, all the better), price it.  Essentially, get it ready for sale.
  • Next, build a marketing message.  Build a marketing site.  Make a video pitch.
  • Finally, launch the product.  Go to a site like Kickstarter, where you can pitch your product and pre-sell (you are selling it prior to making it, negating the risk of a garage full of unsold merchandise) it to a large audience.

Note, that nothing in this process costs anything but time.  It’s something anybody can do.  Further, if you fail, it only costs you time (and a little humility) to try it again and again until you are successful.

The DiY (do-it-yourself) design option

One of the coolest parts of this project isn’t the finished product that makes the company the money it needs to continue its mission/development.  No, it is that they allow a DIY option and concise, high quality instructions for how to accomplish it.

Of course, you can buy it from Windowfarms. But sometimes shipping or costs can be prohibitive. But if you aren’t willing to buy, they’ll give you the design.

It’s not a simple system to build. It may take a few days to get the integrated system together. Giving you both options allows you to determine if your time is better spent on the DiY option or better spent just buying it from them.

More on how to determine that in future issues.



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