If there is one country that people have had to get really creative with indoor gardening, it’s Japan with their lack of ample farming space versus the population. One enterprising company unveiled their lettuce vending machine a couple years ago, and affectionately dubbed it, “Chef’s Garden.” This ingenious idea capable of supplying a busy restaurant with 60 heads of garden fresh lettuce a day.
The entire concept offers a myriad of possibilities that goes far beyond lettuces and could offer a great solution to providing locally grown fresh produce anywhere, even in uber urban New York City. It’s compact footprint and vertical garden construction could very well be set up to provide a variety of fresh greens and herbs in a kitchen, or even retail situation. How cool would that be at your local grocery store, if they just exchanged vending machines in the produce area as their crop matured? None of this shipping from distant locals, you’d be purchasing the freshest stuff you’d ever had outside of regular visits to a farm market during the season. And all of it grown without the use of nasty chemicals.
Are there other fast growing and in demand crops this type of portable hydroponics system could accommodate? Cilantro, many types of parsley, chives, basil and a number of other leafy herbs quickly come to mind. Cilantro being really enticing as it bolts to the seed form of Coriander quickly, and looses flavor for every hour it has been cut from the plant.
The original Japanese press release referred to this brainstorm of the Dentsu Facility Management as a ‘small vegetable plant.’ A term that makes one wonder if it was meant to be good humor, or just a humorous translation. With a system that could conceivably produce 20,000 heads of lettuce annually, it seems they might have just not noticed the pun, and meant it as the factory the word ‘plant’ conveys in modern manufacturing. A factory, it could easily be termed to be with a commercial price tag of $90,000. Dentsu placed a restaurant’s investment recuperation at 5 years, dropping their price per head of lettuce from about 90 cents USD to pennies.