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The Good News
2017 August/September
Pg 3 - The Sunshine Express
and how they react to certain changes. That¡¯s really
Shrinking greenhouses
Today¡¯s SproutsIO system is the product of years of
refinement for mass adoption. In 2009, while work-
ing for New York City¡¯s Department of Parks and
Recreation, Farah designed a ¡°vertically integrated
greenhouse¡± system, called the Faade Farm. The
system consisted of a large metal frame that could
be affixed to the side of a building. Long metal
planters were installed inside like shelves, and a
pump system was installed on the floor. The boxes
could be placed up and down a building like garden-
ing balconies.
Though never fully realized, the system got Farah
thinking about bringing growing systems to urban
areas ¡ª a concept that¡¯s popular now but was fairly
novel at the time. Building massive structures, how-
ever, was a time-consuming and complex process.
In 2011, Farah enrolled in the Media Lab, in the
Changing Places Group, to develop the idea on a
smaller scale.
For her master¡¯s thesis, she built a slightly smaller
indoor aeroponic system, called SeedPod, that con-
sisted of modular planters made of inflatable plastic
and suspended in three tiers by steel rods. The
planters were equipped with sensors for monitoring
the plants. An automated pump provided water and
nutrients to each planter.
Partnering with Boston Public Schools, Farah in-
stalled the system in a middle school in Roxbury.
Students started growing plants to eat, and teach-
ers incorporated the gardening into their lessons.
Microgardens (continued from page 1) SproutsIO continues to work with a number of
professional chefs across the nation.
Ultimately, however, what benefit does a smart
microgarden offer over simply growing potted
plants at home? ¡°At a base level, we make it
easier for people to start growing,¡± Farah says.
But she also believes the system is ¡°a small-
scale solution that can have a big impact.¡±
Individual SproutsIO units can save consumers
water, energy, and resources, while easing them
into growing their own food. If enough people
adopt the system, she says, it could save sig-
nificant amounts of water and encourage local,
efficient growing. But the concept of optimized
watering systems, if designed at scale, could
also benefit a world where around 70 percent of
fresh water is used for industrial agricultural, she
¡°We need to be considering different solutions
for growing that start to optimize the needs of
the plant, rather than just pouring tons of water
and nutrients on them,¡± she says.
(source: Rob Matheson, MIT News Office, news.
The Wolfpack Ninja Tour
Top Ninjas from all over the U.S.
will compete in Loveland, Colorado in
November; Amateur Ninjas welcome
Loveland, CO, July 17, 2017: Wolfpack Ninja
Tour LLC, will bring their second major Wolfpack
Ninja Tour event to the Budweiser Events Center
in Loveland, CO, on November 3-5, 2017.
VIP tickets and tickets for kid¡¯s classes as well as
spectator tickets to the Finals Competition went
on sale beginning July 21. Tickets can be pur-
chased by calling 877.544.8499, in person at the
Budweiser Events Center Box Office or online at:
The event will be a large-scale competition in
which competitors from across the world will
compete on a professional obstacle course for
over $50,000 in cash prizes. A portion of pro-
ceeds will go to the Positive Coaching Alliance
and ninjas of all ages are welcome to try the
course and the multitude of Ninja obstacles at
the venue.
This tour will be a family-fun showcase oper-
ated by the Wolfpack Ninjas, a group of all-star
athletes featured on NBC¡¯s hit TV show series
American Ninja Warrior. The Wolfpack Ninja
Tour¡¯s spectacular debut, in April 2017, opened
to sell-out crowds from 35 states, 6 Canadian
Provinces and countries including Japan, Austra-
lia, the UK and many others. This will be the final
Colorado event before the Wolfpack Ninja Tour
takes the sport national in 2018.
¡°Spectators are welcome to come and watch as
ninjas from all over the world compete in the
Finals Competition which is a head-to-head style
racing format,¡± said Dr. Noah Kaufman, President,
Wolfpack Ninja Tour. ¡°One male and one female
will be crowned champion of the event, with
scaled payouts to the Top 10 finalists.
Reigning Female Champion and Stuntwoman Su-
perstar Jessie Graff is our Pro-Team Captain and
lead Wolfpack Ninja Tour representative. The Pro-
Team features top professional ninjas including:
Joe Moravsky, Meagan Martin, Flip Rodriquez,
(see ¡®Ninja Tour¡¯ continued on page 4 >>)
¡°It clicked that the more
involved people are with
growing food, the more
they cared about what
happened to it,¡± she
In 2012, Farah shrunk
the system further,
developing a microg-
ardening ¡°station¡± that
could be used in homes.
A number of growing
pods ¡ª moving toward
today¡¯s SproutsIO device
¡ª were attached to a
vertical pole at different
levels, resembling a tree
of pods. Included were
early versions of the
misting system, light-
ing, and sensors viewed
through an app.
In 2013, Farah launched
SproutsIO and entered
the project into the
$100K Entrepreneurship
Competition, where she
was a semifinalist, and a entrepre-
neurship competition,
which she won. Through
MIT Sloan School of Man-
agement and Media Lab
venture-based classes,
she honed the business
idea and fleshed out her
startup¡¯s larger ¡°personal
produce¡± mission. ¡°Those
courses were very inspir-
ing classes that helped
to get students thinking
about how their ideas
apply to larger world
context,¡± she says.
Years of user feedback
and research and de-
velopment helped the
startup refine the product
into today¡¯s SproutsIO
system. Early prototypes,
in fact, were sent to Bar-
bara Lynch, a renowned
Boston chef who is now
advisor to the startup.
¡°What better way to re-
ally understand how well
the system can perform
than putting it in a pro-
fessional chef¡¯s kitchen?¡±
Farah says.