Somerville’s Grove Labs says it’s ready to spur an indoor food-growing revolution in Boston—maybe starting with you.
On Tuesday, Grove—founded by two MIT students and based at Greentown Labs—opened up its “early adopter” program to Boston-area residents. That means locals can sign up to get the first edition of the company’s easy-to-use indoor growing system in February, which should enable growing leafy greens and other veggies while the snow is still on the ground.
The system—about the size of a bookshelf—uses LED lights and aquaponics (fish) to grow food in any room of the house, said co-founder Gabe Blanchet. The goal is for the unit to blend into the room’s surroundings, and a mobile Web app guides users each step of the way, he said. Along with greens and herbs, peppers and tomatoes are also growable in the startup’s “grove,” Blanchet said.
Becoming an early adopter requires a $350 deposit, and the full price of the system starts at about $1,000 (it varies depending on the wood choice and the number of towers chosen). Grove says a couple hundred units will be made available to early adopters.
Among the early adopters so far is state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is a gardener and signed up during a visit to Greentown on a stop on her gubernatorial campaign. “She was in the flow of her race, but she took one look at the product, understood what it was and knew that she wanted one in her home,” Blanchet said.
But will this sort of system have what it takes to reach the mainstream? Blanchet said most major technological advances of the past have started with early adopters (think of the PC revolution and its ties to the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley). “It starts with passionate pioneers,” he said.
“We like to think we have the same sort of group of excited people” as previous tech revolutions had, Blanchet said—except this time it’s not about computing, but about “growing food year-round, right where you live.”
Blanchet launched the company with former MIT classmate Jamie Byron, and the company raised a seed round of $2 million in May. The funding was led by Upfront Ventures and included other investors such as Gary Vaynerchuck’s fund, Vayner RSE.
Rendering images courtesy of Grove Labs.