As Americans become more conscious of food politics and increasingly seek out local ingredients, one of my favorite trends of recent years is countertop gardening kits. What's more local than your own kitchen? Perfect for small spaces and urban dwellers, the idea of growing your own greens indoors is not new, but the most recent offerings are less complicated and more thoughtfully designed.
As we reported last week with Click and Grow's, designers have invested time into creating beautiful countertop gardening systems that turn the blackest thumbs, green. I particularly love the Grow Green terracotta boxes from Swedish design duo, Cult Design. The stacking boxes contain the right amount of moisture to cultivate varying sprouts—alfalfa, broccoli sprouts, beans and more. Their "kitchen farming" line of products are simple and functional.
Back to the Roots, a young startup from two UC Berkeley graduates, diverts and reuses 3.6 million pounds of coffee grounds a year as soil in their Mushroom Kits. Each Mushroom kit grows up to 1.5 pounds of pearl oyster mushrooms right from the box.
Their newest product, a countertop aquaponic fish tank/garden was launched through Kickstarter at the end of 2012. The compact system not only teaches people the basics of aquaponic farming, but also allows for a healthy harvest of herbs and greens.
Prepara, best known for their herb-savor pods, recently added herb shears to their offering. Ergonomic with a spring-loaded handle, these shears are a clear indication that kitchenware companies are now catering to and increasingly mainstream population of kitchen gardeners.
A more whimsical product debuting in the United States at the Home + Housewares Show is the Petomato. The Japanese product turns any water bottle into a base for growing cherry tomatoes, basil or habanero peppers.
The seeds are embedded in an attachment that replaces the cap for a standard sized plastic bottle. The plants are grown hydroponically. Check out the original viral video from "Tomato Man." You get the idea.