URBIGO: Cherry Tomatoes and Chillies from a Green Cube

Photograph: Jovana Todorovic

Gardening has always involved owning a piece of land, and garden plants would bear fruits as a result of time, effort and knowledge a man has invested in. If a city dweller wanted to grow his plants, he would have to own a cottage with a garden or at least strips of land around his house, and also to spend some time learning the gardening basics as well as practising techniques whose intensity varies depending on the season. The one who did not have a plot of land could only dream of sweet-smelling and fresh produces from his own crops.

By implementing the modern concept of urban gardening and vertical gardens all around the world, inhabitants at urban areas also got a chance to grow herbs, strawberries and cherry tomatoes on small land lots managing even to apply the main principles of organic production which means that no pesticides, artificial fertilizers, chemically treated seeds, etc are allowed.

Recently, a step forward has been made. Thanks to a local team of young experts, an urban gardener – by definition without a land – now doesn’t need to have any knowledge about agriculture, nor to worry about weather conditions, nor to spend much time to take care of his plants. All he needs is “Green Cube”.

A fledgeling company “UrbiGo”, founded by Anja Carapic, Aleksandar Varnicic, Predrag Gajic and Milan Trajkovic, made a portable smart garden and gave it a name “Green Cube”. Having witnessed the challenges of an intensive urbanization and overpopulation in cities that led to a gradual shrinkage of green areas, these young people wanted to find a solution for a new generation that is raised in “concrete jungle” and in an environment which is increasingly polluted. It appears that a small garden is an ideal choice for growing herbs or miniature vegetables throughout the year and at any place in a home.

Anja Carapic, an environmental engineer and the only lady in this team of four innovators, told us that they had a strong motive since there was a product missing from the market, the one designed to all urban residents who do not have enough space, time or knowledge to become owners of their own piece of greenery and to grow their own groceries.

Photograph: URBIGO TEAM

“Many have tried, frequently with no success, to grow various plants at home. We noticed that they had been spending a lot of money on different solutions for urban gardening, but they were all too complicated, big or noisy. We wanted to make a product that will make the cultivation much easier”, says Anja. If we also take into account the fact that today people generally show interest, if not concern, about the quality of food which they keep buy- ing at the supermarkets, it’s not unusual that they want to grow plants and pick fresh produces.

Upon reflecting on the fact that most people in city do not have even a terrace suitable for cultivating at least certain types of fruits and vegetables, this team of innovators has realized that it is necessary to create an advanced and autonomous garden solution – plants must be provided with all that they need to grow in the conditions that were previously considered completely inadequate for cultivation and which posed an obstacle for any kind of “gardening”.

“With the ‘Green Cube’, you no longer need a terrace, garden or plenty of space. The garden has an automatic lighting and self-watering system so it informs you when it’s thirsty, that is to say when you need to water it (generally on 3 or 4 weeks), or when you should turn the light on or off, regardless of where you are at that moment. And here comes its main advantage. All of this you can actually do with one click on your mobile phone”, says Anja. Through the free application, the company UrbiGo developed, it is now possible to monitor vital factors of plants such as temperature, light and water level at any time and from any place, which enables the urban gardener to pick fresh spices or miniature vegetable produces in just 2.5 months. As the breeder moves forward in his gardening adventure, he unlocks new levels in the application, gets recipes and tips, and learns what are the benefits of cultivating different plants in his garden.

We Believe in Smart Gardens but also in Smart Gardeners

Photograph: URBIGO TEAM

According to Anja, the main users of “Green Cube” are primarily millennials, young business people aged from 23 to 36 years who have a hectic lifestyle, yet want to have a healthier diet. There are companies on the waiting list for this product who want to make their workspace greener and connect their employees with nature. Families with children are also interested in the “Green Cube” because parents believe it’s better for children to learn about nature while the children themselves are engaged taking care of plants, and to spend time on a phone in a more meaningful way by using this application instead of just playing the games.

Read the whole text in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine on SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE, July 2018.

Prepared by: Tamara Zjacic