The HiGro Tower Garden – A high-density, growing system for urban households. The HiGro Tower Garden is manually operated, productive, sustainable and highly water efficient. Grow leafy greens, peas, beans, strawberries, flowers and more… effortlessly.
Concerns over climate change have changed the way we think about food production. Transportation of food from farms to urban markets not only adds to product cost increases but also negatively impacts the environment. Supplying at the point of demand has become a hot topic and resulted in numerous innovations being introduced to the market. Various organisations are aspiring to encourage people to grow at home. More and more people are opting for locally grown organics as is evident by the growth in community market initiatives. Hydroponics is fast becoming a trend amongst home growers, however, costly capital layout and lack of knowledge makes these grow methods inaccessible to rural growers. The HiGro Tower Garden is one such innovation which combines functionality and cost.
James Dick is the genius behind the development of the HiGro Tower Garden. James has over 25 years’ experience as an agronomist and plant physiologist. James gained his agronomic experience in South Africa, the USA and the UK. James consults in his private capacity on plant physiology, soil-health and integrated pest management country wide. As director of Home Farms Singapore, he oversees R&D and provides technical and agronomic support for state of the art hydroponics production facilities in Singapore.
The HiGro Tower Garden is a vertical farming solution utilising less than a square meter. The HiGro Tower Garden consists of 4 segments, each segment housing 6 plants grown in coir. One HiGro Tower Garden effectively grows up to 24 plants. The HiGro Tower Garden is not only space considerate, but also water wise. Plant fertiliser is mixed with the water in a compression sprayer and manually pumped up through the drip lines to each segment. This simple grow system uses no electricity making it as green as the plants growing in it.
Urban agriculture is a powerful tool to assist with alleviating poverty and address malnutrition in poorer communities. The HiGro Tower Garden is the perfect solution to address agriculture in high density living environments. James has worked with rural communities in and around Cape Town for the last 15 months. He actively works with the Overberg Wheel Chair Association helping the disabled communities grow their own food at home.
The HiGro Tower Garden can empower home-bound people due to their social responsibility, particularly woman in urban communities. Growing food for the home is empowering, builds self-respect and can be sustainable. Disabled people can reach the plants in the column because they are elevated, thus enabling them to be productive and contribute to the household fiscus.
Fortification of modern diets with mineral-rich salad crops (e.g. spinach) will improve health and concentration of school children for example. A diet rich in spinach can improve or prevent certain kinds of blindness in the aged. Xanthophylls (Lutein and Zeazathin) in Spinach & Kale can offer protection against age-related macular degeneration. Due to the compactness of the HiGro Tower Graden it can produce food in high-density housing communities. Urban children can get involved in the production of food by growing vegetables with the HiGro Tower Garden and thereby learn to appreciate what ends up on their plate.
James’ work with the Wheel Chair Association also involves training local based extension officers in the allocated urban communities to provide technical support and encouragement to the following group of selected recipients. These recipients will be funded from grants sourced on the success of the primary phase.
A new holistic approach is necessary to help professionalise small-scale farmers and create opportunities for them. Made with RuralTM is a social enterprise that brings together key players in the rural development and agribusiness sector to provide opportunities and tools to enable rural farmers to participate meaningfully in South Africa’s economy. Their brand and identity are inspired by the determination of rural farmers who continue to farm and provide for their families against all odds.
Made with RuralTM supports rural growers with market access and support. Operating within the greater Gauteng area, Made with Rural currently supplies rural grown food to individuals across the province. With Made with Rural’s interactive app called ‘PocketCrop’, rural growers receive market information, growers information and scheduled pickups when the produce is ready.
In collaboration with Made with RuralTM, the Lighthouse Emporium team formally challenge South African citizens to assist us in taking the HiGro System to rural growers. We are raising a challenge to the public for individuals to contribute positively to the livelihoods of families and communities in rural areas. The HiGrower’s Feat is a campaign which combines community spirit, innovation and fresh food to help fight poverty.
Listen to James Dick on CapeTalk 567.