Alifarm is a mobile gardening concept that offers a convenient way of gardening for urban dwellers.

Backyard farms are pass this startups helps you build a farm in your bedroom
Atom Startups Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 11:52

As cities turn into concrete jungles, spaces once available for gardening and growing plants are shrinking. The positive side of this is the growing trend of urban farming. The idea of being able to grow pesticide-free food that doesn’t travel far, before reaching your plate is making urban farming more attractive.

To make growing food or gardening convenient for the urban dwellers, Arun Raj, founder of Mumbai-based startup Enverde developed his product Altifarm in 2017. Altifarm enables people to grow a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, and fruits in an area of just one square metre. 

Arun, who ran a boutique Industrial Design Studio worked on his four-tier mobile garden for three years. Since the model takes up such a small space it can be placed anywhere in your house.

 “I was working with a Swiss client on a project to develop a custom-made garden installation in granite of a much larger size, when I came up with the idea for Altifarm. I interacted with the client several times to develop a modular gardening product for people like myself, which led to multiple rounds of design and development, leading to Altifarm,” Arun said. 

How it works

This flexible mobile garden model consists of four self-watering tiers, held together by a metal frame. It is a compact and modular design that makes it ideal for indoor use, especially in your bedrooms.

Every bucket holds an inner tray that holds a growing medium in cones that are immersed in water from the reservoir outside. The medium ensures excess water does not seep into the plants. Through the natural capillary action, water comes on top, reaching the roots.

This also does away with the need for electricity. The model lets the plants decide how much water it requires, so one does not have to worry about underwatering or overwatering plants. With better root oxygenation, plants grow faster and healthier.

The water to fill the bucket, is poured through a spout, which comes with a cap. Once water is poured, the cap has to be shut. This ensures insects do not reach the water for breeding. But the small holes on the cap lets oxygen in. Typically, the bucket will require water to be refilled only once a week. The tube attached to the spout has a floating indicator, which tells you if watering is needed. Altifarm claims to consume up to 80% less water.

The height of each tier can be adjusted as plants grow taller. One issue with having plants indoors is the requirement of light for them to grow. You can place the Altifarm near a window or in a balcony. However, if there is no access to sunlight, Altifarm also has an option of ‘Grow light pack’, which have grow-lights that can be fitted above every tier.

In addition, Altifarm also has options like a greenhouse pack for extreme weather conditions, which is like a roll up door. Altifarm is made in Mumbai and Pune and is being shipped across the world. Revenue is earned purely through the sale of the Altifarm, which cost anywhere between $179 and $400.

“We do not sell soil, seeds, and plants or offer any maintenance. It is just the product. But customers can order add-ons such as self-watering kit, grow lights, greenhouse kit based on their requirements,” Arun said. 

Enverde chose a unique way of selling Altifarms – a crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. Indiegogo is a platform which helps entrepreneurs with ideation, funding options, marketing and promotion of their products and then lets you sell your product on its platform.

Enverde started its campaign on Indiegogo in February 2017, and has received preorders for more than $110,000 from 35 countries.

Having invested over $50,000 in the past three years, Enverde is working on developing the product further. Going forward, it will develop more variants and add-ons to the product. It is also banking on the feedback from users to further improvise the product and its functionality. And with the response it has been receiving from all across the globe, it expects to break even in this financial year itself.

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