Combining a hectic travel life, always on the go, with health and environment consciousness altogether? It just sounds almost impossible. A busy executive taking time to drive every day across London just to try, taste and choose the right herbs and vegetables, like a Chef would do, at their most reliable stores and suppliers that unfortunately happens to be across town: a utopia! So is healthy vegan-based diets reserved only for those who have time? The global appetite for meat-free and plant-based diets is on an irresistible rise. Veganism is rising by 600% in the US and 350% in the UK. Sales of vegetables alone are expected to increase by 20% by 2021. So it’s time to get sourced safely, to cut down on the food mileage on your carbon footprint going shopping and overall to save time and money without compromising our commitment to our health and to the global environment. One greentech company, Natufia Labs, may have pulled a good card out of the deck. It developed a simple but high-tech ‘no-gardening-needed’ type of smart indoor garden right in your kitchen. We looked into the Natufia Kitchen Garden and this is what we have to say:
Designed by the Chefs, for the Chefs
Originally, the Natufia Kitchen Garden is a professional tool that was developed in 2014 by Natufia Labs, Inc. a company based in Tallinn, Estonia, the home of many successful startup companies and of the home greentech giant Click&Grow. The Natufia Kitchen Garden was originally designed to allow top Michelin star chefs to grow their own herbs and vegetables right in their kitchen without having to depend on various more or less reliable suppliers and be more environmentally friendly by cutting waste and carbon mileage. The Natufia Kitchen Garden was and remains the favourite palette of organic taste and flavours a Chef is happy to compose his menus with every morning when walking into his kitchen, independently of seasons, pollution and geographic constraints. What is true for a Chef is true for a home user: It quickly took off as an essential appliance for a home kitchen where convenience meets health and taste.
Whether you are a Chef, a busy executive or simply a person rushing home after work and picking up the kids, you most likely have no time to garden, but yet you would prefer to get your food with a true taste and from a safe and traceable source. The soil-free hydroponic technology is today a well-known solution to grow plants and greens in large quantities in a fully automated way. This is done all over the Netherlands, in a London underground train tunnel or on the last floor of some Brooklyn ancient manufacturing plant. The problem was how to fit this hydroponic technology initially designed for large-scale production right into someone’s kitchen? This is what Natufia Labs has managed to achieve with the Natufia Kitchen Garden: A fully automated miniature hydroponic garden that fits in every kitchen and does not require any sort of gardening time or skills.
How does it work?
1) Choose the seed pod you want to see growing (as you would choose a capsule of Nespresso)
2) Plant it in the nursery
3) Move it to the main grow chamber after 1-2 weeks
4) Watch it grow
5) Harvest it and eat it!
It’s that simple!
One regular simple cleaning every month, one refill of the nutriment cartridges every two to three months and one professional cleaning per year to ensure that the machine will perform optimally over the eight years it is planned to last. The machine is hydroponic, so that means that while you can grow fresh mint leaves, lemon grass, lettuce, basil, microgreens, tomatoes, eggplants, strawberries and flowers, you cannot grow carrots, potatoes or any root vegetables that in turn need soil to grow.
True Original Taste (TOT) recovered
If there is one of the aspects of the Natufia Kitchen Garden that is most striking, it is the quality of the taste that we get from its plants. That’s how the company got the attention of key Michelin chefs such as Emmanuel Renaut and Simone Zanoni, Natufia’s official ambassador and one of the members of the Natufia development team, Chef at the Four Seasons George V in Paris and one of the keepers of the Potager du Roy, the largest herb garden in the world, situated next to the Versailles castle in France. Great chefs don’t compromise on taste and neither does the Natufia Kitchen Garden. Chefs understood that the Natufia Kitchen Garden is not a Frankenstein machine and that plants do not necessarily grow faster, but that it does reliably and automatically reproduce the miracles of an outdoor garden right inside a home kitchen. The Natufia Kitchen Garden has so far been tested with over 120 various seeds. Only two varieties of plants did not pass the test.
A convenient health-centric machine for busy executives on the go
The Natufia Labs at the very beginning recognised that shopping correctly for veg is becoming increasingly difficult and especially time-consuming. No pesticides? No GMOs? Will I find that type of strawberries I like in February or I must buy them from Kenya? Do I have to cross town to find the fresh tea leaves I like? Or do I need to surrender my health and quality of food to mass food production because I simply don’t have time for the alternatives? All Natufia seeds have been not only organic but Demeter certified. Clinical tests show a vitamin content up to 400% superior to the organic equivalent from shops. With a capacity of 32+ plants growing simultaneously in a kitchen space of 60 cm² and two fresh harvests a day, most of the vegetarian needs of a family of 3 can be covered… from the fresh smoothie to the salad, the fresh tea, the berries and the spices for the Chef – all year round in their home kitchen.
The other small but interesting things we’ve noticed about the Natufia Kitchen Garden:
- It’s an attractive appliance that impresses everyone without being invasive. It fits most kitchen designs, even those more antique.
- The computer offers various options for growth or you can just safely stay standard.
- It has nature sounds and music for the plants.
- It’s based on a fully natural process: The pots containing the plants are watered automatically every two minutes and there is a night-time cycle when plants sleep. The water is mixed with nutrients and then poured unto the first pot that just takes what it needs for its plants and then passes on the rest to the pot below: No overfeeding, nature decides what to take and recycle automatically what is not used.
- It can do microgreens: That’s a favourite for restaurant users.
- Installation is as easy as a small dishwasher and there is no energy-consuming cooling system.
- Clients are being cared for: The machine connects to the Wi-Fi and despite its fully computerised and automated process, Natufia Labs has a 24/7 team of technicians and botanists to assist its clients…just in case… and they send you a notification if they see something strange is happening with your machine.
- Price: Around £9,200 (€ 9,995 in Continental Europe retail)
- Availability: Upon order at www.natufia.com or via retailers in selected countries
- Warranty: 2 years
- Consumables: Nutrients, seeds to be ordered at www.natufia.com or via retailers