Indoor farming has been adopted widely across the agriculture industry, from large-scale vertical farming operations such as AeroFarms and Bowery Growing to companies that sell smaller systems meant for customers to grow food in their own homes. In a time when food and beverage consumers valued essential products, healthy eating, convenience and home-cooked meals, the indoor gardening market was poised for significant growth.
“Indoor gardening opens the world of growing your own food to a much wider audience — all the people who otherwise might be constrained by short growing seasons and extreme weather (particularly in Northern climates) or by a lack of outdoor space for a traditional garden,” said Hank Adams, CEO of hydroponic home gardening system provider Rise Gardens. “In addition, indoor gardens are highly productive in terms of the amount of food you can grow per square foot, and sustainable in terms of the amount of energy and water used to grow.”
Martin Laidla, public relations manager for smart garden producer Click & Grow, added that food trends such as plant-based foods, plant parenting, sustainability were made even more relevant once the coronavirus pandemic hit. These ideas lend themselves to the increased popularity of inside gardening among a wide variety of users.
“Smart indoor gardens don’t require any previous knowledge or experience growing plants and the growth process is controlled by the technology, resulting in a higher success rate,” explained Laidla. “Indoor smart gardens usually grow plants 30-50% faster as they are designed to provide the best conditions for the specific plants to grow. Because of this, they also contain more nutrients.”
“The idea of farm-to-table slowly evolved into ‘garden-to-table,’ with more and more people seeing the benefits of growing your own produce,” said Adams.
Pandemic prompts rise in gardening interest
When pandemic-related closures and lockdowns began last spring, many people turned to new hobbies such as baking, crafting and gardening. Adams and Laidla both report that Rise Gardens and Click & Grow experienced an increase in sales since March 2020 and that those strong sales have continued throughout the pandemic.
Rise Gardens offers many gardening systems as well as a wide range of seeds and accessories that allow users to grow several types of plants within one unit. The versatility this provides for consumers is greatly beneficial for those who are seeking to have many healthy food options.
“We have seen a very large percentage of our customers add these accessories to grow more volume and variety and we believe that is why they have stuck with us at a remarkably consistent level,” said Adams.
Laidla cites the significant and widespread supply chain constraints that have affected the food and beverage industry this year as another example of why consumers are turning to Click & Grow’s products. Growing vegetables such as leafy greens in one of their systems allows consumers to have a healthy, safe alternative to store-bought greens that also reduces waste.
Indoor growing as hobby, habit persists
“As with any hobby, you want to continue to evolve and explore,” said Adams. “We have made an effort to emphasize the experiences that may help bring some comfort into people’s lives.”
He shared that Rise Gardens is planning to release Alexa voice control integrations for its systems soon, which will be used to change light and timing as well as will notify owners if the plants require more water or nutrients. The company is also looking to make improvements to their app as well as roll out a microgreens accessory to continue bettering user experience and providing more growing options.
Laidla agreed with the idea that growing your own food inside will continue: “Indoor gardening has won people’s hearts and minds all over the world.”
He said that the entire smart garden market is likely to see more investments and growth in the future, and Click & Grow expects to double in size each year to keep up with demand. The brand’s latest product, the Click & Grow 25, uses Smart Soil plant pods — which they compare to coffee pods used in single-serve coffee machines — to garden leafy greens year-round at ideal conditions. The product’s Kickstarter page has already greatly surpassed its backing goal.
The indoor gardening trend has clearly moved from a “quarantine hobby” to a long-term habit for many people this year.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing a seed sprout and turn into a beautiful, nutritious plant that can feed our families,” said Adams.
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