Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

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Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

“Our vision has always been to provide an option for everyone to grow their own food," says Urban Cultivator founder and CEO Tarren Wolfe. Observing how challenging it was to source completely organic, non-GMO food—hitting home personally due to his wife's severe food allergies—Wolfe developed Urban Cultivator, an indoor gardening system. Not just a useful kitchen appliance, the empowering project puts control in people’s hands.

Home growing is the only way to make sure your veggies are fresh and pesticide-free, as well as sustainably grown and delivered. But not all of us have the luxury of backyards or time to garden, let alone ideal year-round weather. Saving space, time and effort, Urban Cultivator's best benefit comes at dinnertime. "The flavor of the greens grown is completely unparalleled to anything you can get at grocery stores," says Wolfe, not to mention the nutritional bonus of produce harvested a few seconds before your meal.

Packing hydroponic growing technology into a unit the size of a dishwasher (larger commercial units are available for restaurants), the Urban Cultivator allows growing of a wide variety of herbs and greens—like wheatgrass, arugula or oregano—anytime of the year. An internal computer oversees the automated air circulation (for perfect humidity, temperature and CO2), watering and lighting for foolproof, optimal growth of what you decide to plant.

This past March, Urban Cultivator opened their "Living Produce Aisle," a space in Yaletown, Vancouver (near their Surrey, BC headquarters and manufacturing plant), serving salads, smoothies and cold-pressed juices from greens grown inside, freshly harvested to order a few feet away from the register. The store has 10 Urban Cultivator commercial units, which means at any given time, they could be growing 1,280 5x5” flats of 100% organic greens. "Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community," says Wolfe. "It also serves as a space to teach people about microgreens and healthy lifestyles. When people see the machines, brush the growing greens with their fingers and try some fresh microgreens, that really leaves a mark.”

With a vision of having Urban Cultivator and Living Produce Aisles in more cities and countries, as well as using their technology to do non-profit work in developing regions, one day, enclosed hydroponic gardens might be taken for granted in the kitchen—just like the refrigerator or oven.

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Urban Cultivator

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