Community interest company HydroGrow has created ‘smart garden’ technology that allows chefs to grow fresh herbs onsite in restaurant kitchens.
The Halo system uses hydroponic technology can accommodate up to five different herbs in pre-packed pods. Users should only need to pour water in the unit’s vase section, place the pods in the unit’s slots and plug the system in.
Isaac McNamara, executive director and CEO of HydroGrow CIC is familiar with the catering equipment industry, having interned at Catering Equipment Solutions for his mother, the MD, Anna McNamara.
Of his new venture he detailed: “Our system is 100% autonomous, so whilst the herbs are growing all chefs need to do is add water on average every 2 weeks. This makes it very easy for even the most amateur gardeners to really utilise our product and get the most out of it.
“Nutrients are provided in a special formula in our pods which allows the seeds and plants enough organic nutrients throughout their life cycle. Seeds also come pre-germinated, making growing that much faster.
“When it comes to harvesting, this is the trickiest part, but at HydroGrow we have also made this super simple. With hydroponic technology, the herbs will regrow faster than traditional soil methods and as such with our handy guide on all our herbs, we teach chefs how to harvest them so that the plant can grow back successfully and provide them with fresh herbs for longer.”
He added: “The Halo provides more quality on food, allowing diners to eat plants with 30% higher nutritional value. It also lets chefs grow plants year-round, harvested directly from their kitchens.”
The Halo is designed and produced in the UK, using recycled HDPE plastic. McNamara emphasised that: “All the actors of our supply-chain are respectful of the environment and have proven their engagement in the past. From manufacturing through to our distribution, we have implemented a carbon-neutral approach through sustainable electricity provision from renewable resources in our warehouses all the way to electric zero-emission distribution and zero-waste packaging.”
As a community interest company (CIC), HydroGrow has implemented an education initiative provided to UK schools which focuses on providing education on subjects such as sustainability, hydroponics, waste management, agriculture and STEM subject material. Through a 7-week program, the firm works with students to build its systems through trial and error using 3D printing, computer-aided design and circuit board exercises.
Within the initiative, the company also works with Action West London, a UK-based charity which works to provide employment, training and education to a variety of different minority groups. HydroGrow employs Youths Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) in which it provides education and training to work in its partner schools as teaching assistants within the program.