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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vending Machine Grows 20,000 Heads of Lettuce a Year Without Sunlight

by Brian Merchant


Photos: Dentu

This is how we shall grow produce in the post-apocalyptic future

Finally -- a device that will guarantee we can still grow vegetables in the dark, after a nuclear holocaust has blocked out the sun or rampaging zombies have taken over our farmland. This Japanese lettuce-growing vending machine has been making the blog-rounds over the last few months, both because it doesn't require sunlight (it uses fluorescent bulbs) and because of the surprising yield it can churn out: 60 heads a day, or over 20,000 a year.

DVice explains:
The machine, called the Chef's Farm, was developed by Dentsu and can produce 60 heads of lettuce per day (or 20,000 heads per year) grown under 40 watt fluorescent lighting housed in a chrome housing that can be stored conveniently in any restaurant.
It can evidently grow other kinds of veggies as well.


The portable fluorescent garden goes is on sale for $90,000, with the target market ostensibly being restaurants that want locally manufactured, sun-free vegetables on site.

Re-Nest has more:

Chef's Farm comes with five nutri-culture beds, which are each installed on long and thin metal frames. The lettuce seeds are planted in sponges in frames that have to be moved manually ... The lighting equipment, culture solution, and temperature can be controlled for each bed, and five different vegetables can be cultivated at the same time.


Obviously, shining twelve 40 watt bulbs on a shelf of seeds isn't the most efficient way to grow veggies, and there's no word on just how much water these 'nutri-culture' beds consume to pump out the lettuce at such a rapid clip -- and there's no word on the quality or nutritional value of the lettuce either. I suppose it would cut down on delivery emissions, but not much more than using locally-sourced produce.


But at least Soylent Green won't be the only menu item in the dystopic urban wastelands of the future.