A Purdue entrepreneur in hydroponics is working in conjunction with the non-profit Red Giant Union to bring nine-foot hydroponics towers to Lafayette.
Scott Massey, Purdue senior and founder and CEO of Hydro Grow LLC, has developed a household hydroponics garden that could replace the traditional refrigerator. Cups containing different seeds are inserted into a tower “Keurig-style,” allowing the user to grow fresh produce in the comfort of their own kitchen. Massey and his team are currently working on the second generation model of the Hydro Grow system, which is based on artificial intelligence, or AI.
“The system would actually be aware of what plants were growing in it and it would adapt its environmental conditions to the specific preferences of that plant,” said Massey. “The sunlight, the pH of the water, the electroconductivity of the water, the humidity; our system will automatically adapt to it without the user having to do anything other than placing the cup into the system.”
The AI component will also take the average values of different plants to create the optimal overall environment. As a result, each garden becomes customized to the user.
“(The AI) is something that really no one in the world, as far as I’m aware, is even considering developing right now, because no one thinks it’s possible,” said Massey. “But we’ve found a pretty good way to do it.”
Massey has recently formed a partnership with Red Giant Union, a non-profit group that is striving to create an urban food system in Lafayette focusing on fresh produce, community involvement and sustainability. The executive director and founder of Red Giant Union, Austin Kasso, is currently fundraising for a community garden called the Tower Farms that will consist of nine-foot hydroponics towers housed at 419 N. Third Street in downtown Lafayette, across from the bus depot. The garden would provide fresh produce and a place for community interaction.
Kasso said that Red Giant Union is working with various local groups to create the community-centered garden. The West Lafayette Farmer’s Market will theme their next market in May on hydroponics and the Tower Farms to promote the fundraising campaign within the community. The Tippecanoe Extension is also helping to promote the project in addition to many other groups.
“People think, ‘One dollar can’t make a difference,’ but it does,” said Kasso. Getting 10,000 people with one dollar to donate involves the community and “inspires engagement with the project.”
Massey’s and Kasso’s mutual interests are what led to their strategic partnership. Massey will be applying his knowledge and experience in hydroponics to help make the vertical gardens a reality.
Hydro Grow LLC is rapidly expanding, and Massey won $35,000 through competitions in a single month. He is looking for people to assist him as his project evolves. Massey said all disciplines are welcome and he will find a way for them to “contribute to the project.”
Interested individuals can contact Massey at email@example.com. More information on Hydro Grow LLC is available at www.hydrogrow.site and through the previously published Exponent article titled, ‘Purdue entrepreneur creates next kitchen appliance: a hydroponics garden,’ available at purdueexponent.org.