Scientists and food researchers are scrambling to answer the big hunger question: With global warming and the worldwide population boom, how will we feed people in the next 50 to 100 years? One solution may be the personal farm computer, a device that looks like an aquarium, but in fact holds a small plant ecosystem and that plugs in to a digital network.Caleb Harper, an engineer at MIT’s Media Lab, and co-founder of CityFarm, believes that his personal agriculture computer is the future of farming, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
The digital interface will control the small indoor organic farm, which allows you to “tweak” the recipe needed in order for your crops to survive, says Harper. The “ingredients” include artificial sunlight produced by LEDs, carbon dioxide, and water. But don’t get out your watering can. The food computer would actually be plugged into the water and electricity of the building in which it is housed. The computer also uses hydroponics, so you don’t need soil to grow the plants.
Right now, Harper and his team are testing out the device with berries and greens, and trying to get the cost down to $300 or less for the average consumer. Of course, the device, which is only four square feet, can only grow so much per week, and would not actually be able to feed a family, but could increase self-sufficiency and deepen the pool of agriculturally minded people in the United States.
“There’s a lack of people and lack of modern tools in this world,” Harper told Smithsonian Magazine. “My goal is to create more farmers through the box.”