Window Farms

Windowfarms is a Brooklyn-based social enterprise that helps city dwellers around the world grow some of their own fresh food.  Windowfarms makes vertical indoor food gardens that optimize the conditions of windows for year-round indoor growing of greens, herbs, and small vegetables. The company runs a 40,000 member online community of growers. Windowfarms is on a mission to revive agricultural biodiversity and to connect eaters with sustainable food production for a healthier future for both humans and the environment.


Windowfarms started as an art project and an experimental design project to harness the power of internet-based mass collaboration to produce a positive impact on human life offline. After growing up on a Texas farm, Founder Britta Riley missed the presence of Nature and the art of food growing after a few years living in a fourth floor Brooklyn walk-up apartment. She was determined to find a way to grow some of her own food in the conditions she shared with billions of modern city dwellers. In 2009, with a very small creative technology grant from Eyebeam Center for Art, Founder Britta Riley and early partner Rebecca Bray started an open source community for makers interested in growing food indoors in cities. With the rapidly surging popularity of the urban agriculture globally, tens of thousands of people around the world soon joined in on a unique effort to learn from one another’s efforts. After dozens of iterations on hydroponic and aquaponic systems retooled for the design constraints of city living, the community coalesced around a vertical column system.

Through a record-breaking, (yet problematically early) campaign on Kickstarter, Riley raised the funds to sustainably manufacture a version of the Windowfarms system in the United States. 

Her TED talk on collaborative innovation has drawn over one million views and popularized urban agriculture globally.


Windowfarms has built year-round productive and intensely delicious food gardens for clients as diverse as the American Museum of Natural History, 21c Museum Hotels, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Freshii international franchise of healthy casual food. Millions of people have seen the gardens and learned about food production that is easily within reach.


Windowfarms is the world’s best known brand in urban agriculture and produces LED growlights, systems, and live food plants in partnership with local farms. In its design and research, Windowfarms let’s big questions lead its work. Within the constraints of city-based farming, where every component is shipped in, what is dirt? If we are going to take on the work of growing food in the city, how can agriculture optimize for human health, good gut microbes, clean modern design, and biophilia?

7 Things I Learned During My Year Without Alcohol

This is an honest, thought provoking and inspiring article written by Kelly Fiztgerald showing the changes in all aspects of her life when she stopped drinking for a year. This photo is a simple before and after of her twelve month experiment.

Kelly Fitzgerald like many people lived a very busy and very sociable lifestyle, but on the 6th of May 2013 she took her last drink. She says of the decision “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was tired of being the party girl, I was tired of feeling like sh*t, I was tired of disappointing and embarrassing my friends and loved ones. I decided I needed a big change. Trying to drink in moderation hadn’t proved to be the best option for me. It never worked. Enough was enough.” So she made the bold move to go completely alcohol free. Now that the year is over she has written an open and honest blog detailing the massive and unexpected benefits she has discovered during her totally sober twelve months and this is what she wrote :

“1. Senses are heightened by 100 times. Wow, I feel everything with a noticeable heightened sensitivity. This includes emotions, muscle pain, my sense of smell, hearing and taste. My nose is so sensitive to smells, I am ALWAYS saying “it smells like ___ in here,” or whoa, it smells SO strong. My emotions are crazy, sometimes I think this is what it must feel like to be pregnant. I cry at the drop of a hat, I’m offended easily and sometimes I am so happy I feel like I’m going to burst. I actually care what people think about me. I know those of you who know me are now saying, Who are you and what have you done with Kelly? This ‘feeling everything’ thing can be extremely overwhelming at times, but I’ve never felt something so amazing.

2. I’m just beginning to understand who I really am. I’ve been learning that there are things I thought I liked that I really don’t like, and things I like that I never knew I did. I’m learning how to socialize and be myself with friends and family without the crutch of alcohol. I learned that waking up on the weekend without a hangover, having a cup of coffee and going for a run is exactly what I want to be doing. I’m learning that person who was under the cloud of constant alcohol blackouts for the last several years was not me. I am not the stupid, embarrassing things I did; I am a real person who does not mix well with alcohol.

3. Alcohol was not fun for me anymore. I had been trying and failing for years to regulate my drinking. I’m only going to drink two, OK three, just on the weekends. It never worked and I finally figured out why – I’m not a person who can ingest alcohol. It started out as a fun, social thing for me years ago, but last year, I realized that it wasn’t fun anymore. In fact, it was the root of any type of problem I had. Bad things happened to me when I drank and I should have wanted to stop sooner than I did.

4. My life is manageable. When actively drinking, my life was a hot mess and I was comfortable that way. I fought through the scary first days and months of not drinking and now, being sober is my normal. I’m so glad it is. Bad things would happen in the past and I always felt like it was the end of the world and drinking was the answer to everything. Now, I feel more prepared; if something bad were to happen, I am able to handle it in a healthy way. Additionally, less bad things have happened since I stopped drinking alcohol, which was the cause of many problems in the past. I am now present and thankful for each day.

5. I am worthy of love. I’m positive I have been sabotaging my romantic relationships for a long time. Why? Now that might take years to find out, but the drinking just helped fuel this problem. It supported, encouraged and justified bad decisions of all kinds, especially those related to men. What I didn’t realize until the drinking stopped was that I am capable of being in a normal relationship and I do in fact, deserve to be loved. You see, I had this way of thinking that since I was f*cked up, I was meant to be in a f*cked up relationship. Now I know that is crazy talk. I am lucky enough to be in a loving, healthy relationship with an amazing man who has helped show me that I deserve all the love in the world and I am finally starting to believe him.

6. Toxic people are just like toxic habits. This is a big one for me. Obviously, when you stop drinking or doing drugs, you probably need to change some friends you hang out with. I definitely had to do this, and I realized just how little I had in common with some people. I also realized that I had friends who were completely different from me, without the same goals and outlook on life. It felt all too fake. When you make a big life decision like admitting you have an alcohol problem and decide to stop drinking, you really find out who your true friends are. There are those people who will love you unconditionally, those who won’t bat an eyelash when you stop drinking and those who will still offer you cocktails after they already know you don’t drink. I’ve encountered all of the above. Getting rid of my toxic friendships along with my toxic habits just makes sense, and I’m learning not to feel bad about it.

7. I’m not perfect, and that’s OK. Stopping a nasty habit like alcohol abuse can bring out a lot of guilt, shame and regret. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t felt all of the above at times. However, I am realizing feeling all the emotions I spent years trying to numb is actually a beautiful thing. Not only am I learning to feel them, I’m learning how to deal with them and live a healthy and successful life. I have made mistakes along the way and I will never be perfect. Every day I have to make a conscious decision not to beat myself up. I am a work in progress and I have come a LONG way. There are good days and bad days. Sometimes, I feel like life isn’t fair and I wish I could just drink alcohol normally like everyone else. Mostly, I have accepted that this is the way my life is, kind of like having five knee surgeries, quitting alcohol has become one of my stories of perseverance.

I never thought that sobriety would be my preferred way of life, but now I can’t imagine going back to my party girl ways. I never dreamed I would feel SO happy, full and healthy living a life without drugs and alcohol. I was always that girl who needed alcohol to have fun, and now I am a testament to the fact that you don’t need it to enjoy yourself. I wake up every day feeling relieved that I never have to feel hungover. I hope that by sharing my story ,other party girls (and boys) will have the courage to put down the drink and live the life they have always imagined. The best is yet to come.”

Whether Kelly’s well written article will help others who are struggling with sobriety, or inspire those who are considering making similar changes or just those who want to cut back we can only applaud her honesty and wish her well in her continued journey.

References: The Adventure of a Sober Senorita

Home Energy Savings Guide

One of the most important points to fully understand is that so many other experts are trying to convince you to put wind or solar energy on your home to get off the grid or just save on your energy bills, but the facts are... just apply what you will learn in the Home Energy Savings Guide, your solar power system will only need to be half the size!

The point is really simple... it costs way less money to cut your energy bills in half than it does to purchase a solar energy system for a home that will waste half the energy anyway! Again, if you cut your energy consumption in half, you'll only need half the solar panels to power your home if you ever choose to go with solar later.

Consider this - if you could drive your car the same number of miles for half the cost, wouldn't you do it? Well, this is what the Home Energy Savings Guide is showing you how to do with your home. Since you probably spend a whole lot more on your home energy bills than you do for gasoline, doesn't it make sense to take advantage of this opportunity right now? Remember, opportunities are never lost, they just go to someone else.

Ask yourself a few of these questions and be totally honest:

    Have you been told that the best way to save money on heating and cooling expenses in your home is to set your thermostat to 68?

    Have you been told to wear a sweater in the winter so you don't have to turn the heat up as much?

    Have you been told to put a fiberglass insulating jacket around your hot water heater to save on water heating costs?

    Have you been told that buying Energy Star rated appliances are a great solution?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have had the wool pulled over your eyes. These recommendations are not even remotely close to what it takes to radically lower your uitlity bills and we're about to show you why.

First of all, put your mind at ease. None of these solutions require any advanced education in energy sciences. Nor do they require you to build anything that is exotic, expensive or time consuming.

You'll be let in on the energy industry's best kept secrets and recommend a few things that you can't buy at your local hardware store. With this information, you will be able to cut your energy costs dramatically. Oh, and don't worry, we'll tell you where to get the stuff.

The energy experts have told you that conservation can save a little, but to save more, you have to make sacrifices. Let's get real... they're talking about FAKE CONSERVATION. The national power grid wastes over 50% of the electricity they produce in transmission losses and your home wastes another 50% of the energy that finally gets to you!

So you see, there are * HUGE * opportunities available for REAL CONSERVATION. The Home Energy Savings Guide opens the door to these exact opportunites by allowing you to cut your energy waste to the bone. And, you don't have to sacrifice either your comfort or your lifestyle!
This Material Is Simply In A Class By Itself!

Home Energy Savings Guide is set up so that you can learn exactly how to save energy throughout your entire home! You'll learn EVERYTHING you need. In the end, this process identifies 4 specific categories of home energy usage and the necessary steps to reduce costs in every single one of them!

Home Energy Savings Guide is a complete manual that anyone can understand. Once the new information is applied, you'll keep more money in your pocket, month after month. Home Energy Savings Guide contains the energy saving solutions that the power companies aren't telling you because it takes money out of their shareholder's pockets.

Thousands of people have used bits and pieces of this material to cut their home energy costs here and there. Now you can have them all in one package.

Home Owners Report These Experiences
Here are just a few of many examples

Hot Water Heating Costs

Cutting up to 70% off of the costs of making hot water in your home. This isn't about getting the standard fiberglass insulating jacket that the experts recommend or installing a solar hot water heater.

Oil Heat?

Cut oil heating costs up to 25% or more and I'm not talking about making biodiesel.

Thermostat Setting?

Leave your thermostat at 72 degrees if you want and still spend less than someone that sets their thermostat at 68 degrees!


Cut the cost of lighting your home by over 80% and this goes beyond the standard recommendation for installing the CFL's (compact fluorescent lights).

Click Here for Full Details

The Problem with Traditional Vegetable Gardening

By Jonathan White, environmental scientist.

Traditional vegetable gardens require an enormous amount of hard work and attention - weeding, feeding and strict planting schedules.  There is also the problem of seasonality, allowing beds to rest during the cooler months producing nothing at all.  Then we are told to plant green manure crops, add inorganic fertilizers and chemicals to adjust imbalanced soils.  It takes a lot of time, dedication and a year-round commitment to grow your own food the traditional way.
But does it really need to be that difficult?
Let me ask you this question.  Does a forest need to think how to grow?  Does its soil need to be turned every season?  Does someone come along every so often and plant seeds or take pH tests?  Does it get weeded or sprayed with toxic chemicals?
Of course not!

Traditional vegetable gardening techniques are focused on problems.  Have you noticed that gardening books are full of ways to fix problems?  I was a traditional gardener for many years and I found that the solution to most problems simply caused a new set of problems. In other words, the problem with problems is that problems create more problems.

Let’s take a look at a common traditional gardening practice and I will show you how a single problem can escalate into a whole host of problems.

Imagine a traditional vegetable garden, planted with rows of various vegetables.  There are fairly large bare patches between the vegetables.  To a traditional gardener, a bare patch is just a bare patch.  But to an ecologist, a bare patch is an empty niche space.  An empty niche space is simply an invitation for new life forms to take up residency.  Nature does not tolerate empty niche spaces and the most successful niche space fillers are weeds.  That’s what a weed is in ecological terms - a niche space filler.  Weeds are very good colonizing plants.  If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be called weeds.

Now back to our story.  Weeds will grow in the empty niche spaces.  Quite often there are too many weeds to pick out individually, so the traditional gardener uses a hoe to turn them into the soil.  I have read in many gardening books, even organic gardening books, that your hoe is your best friend.  So the message we are getting is that using a hoe is the solution to a problem.

However, I would like to show you how using a hoe actually creates a new set of problems.  Firstly, turning soil excites weed seeds, creating a new explosion of weeds.  And secondly, turning soil upsets the soil ecology.  The top layer of soil is generally dry and structureless.  By turning it, you are placing deeper structured soil on the surface and putting the structureless soil underneath.  Over time, the band of structureless soil widens.  Structureless soil has far less moisture holding capacity, so the garden now needs more water to keep the plants alive.

In addition to this problem, structureless soil cannot pass its nutrients onto the plants as effectively.  The garden now also needs the addition of fertilisers.  Many fertilisers kill the soil biology which is very important in building soil structure and plant nutrient availability.  The soil will eventually turn into a dead substance that doesn’t have the correct balance of nutrients to grow fully developed foods.  The foods will actually lack vitamins and minerals.  This problem has already occurred in modern-day agriculture.  Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of the Food Commission said. "… today's agriculture does not allow the soil to enrich itself, but depends on chemical fertilisers that don't replace the wide variety of nutrients plants and humans need."  Over the past 60 years commercially grown foods have experienced a significant reduction in nutrient and mineral content.

Can you see how we started with the problem of weeds, but ended up with the new problems of lower water-holding capacity and infertile soils.  And eventually, we have the potentially serious problem of growing food with low nutrient content.  Traditional gardening techniques only ever strive to fix the symptom and not the cause.

However, there is a solution!  We must use a technique that combines pest ecology, plant ecology, soil ecology and crop management into a method that addresses the causes of these problems.  This technique must be efficient enough to be economically viable.  It also needs to be able to produce enough food, per given area, to compete against traditional techniques.

I have been testing an ecologically-based method of growing food for several years.  This method uses zero tillage, zero chemicals, has minimal weeds and requires a fraction of the physical attention (when compared to traditional vegetable gardening).  It also produces several times more, per given area, and provides food every single day of the year.

My ecologically-based garden mimics nature in such a way that the garden looks and acts like a natural ecosystem.  Succession layering of plants (just as we see in natural ecosystems) offers natural pest management.  It also naturally eliminates the need for crop rotation, resting beds or green manure crops.  Soil management is addressed in a natural way, and the result is that the soil’s structure and fertility get richer and richer, year after year.  Another benefit of this method is automatic regeneration through self-seeding.  This occurs naturally as dormant seeds germinate; filling empty niche spaces with desirable plants, and not weeds.

Unfortunately, the biggest challenge this method faces is convincing traditional gardeners of its benefits.  Like many industries, the gardening industry gets stuck in doing things a certain way.  The ecologically-based method requires such little human intervention that, in my opinion, many people will get frustrated with the lack of needing to control what’s happening.  Naturally people love to take control of their lives, but with this method you are allowing nature to take the reins.  It’s a test of faith in very simple natural laws.  However, in my experience these natural laws are 100% reliable.

Another reason that traditional gardeners may not like this method is that it takes away all the mysticism of being an expert.  You see, this method is so simple that any person, anywhere in the world, under any conditions, can do it.  And for a veteran gardener it can actually be quite threatening when an embarrassingly simple solution comes along.

I have no doubt that this is the way we will be growing food in the future.  It’s just commonsense.  Why wouldn’t we use a method that produces many times more food with a fraction of the effort?  I know it will take a little while to convince people that growing food is actually very instinctual and straightforward, but with persistence and proper explanation, people will embrace this method.

Why?  Because sanity always prevails…