By Jacob Richler - Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Urban Cultivator might be good for restaurants, but maybe not home cooks
On paper, the Urban Cultivator sounds like a fine idea. Just picture it: a glass-fronted, mini-bar-sized device that nestles under your kitchen counter, coddling tray after tray of living herbs and greens with the combined comforts of artificial sunlight and scheduled irrigation so that they are perpetually ripe for the plucking. Well, it sounded good to me, anyway. And it looked even better once I located the Surrey, B.C.-based company website, and saw its photos and claims (“365 days of perfect growing conditions for all your favourite herbs and veggies,” “It truly is the zero-mile diet,” etc.). So I asked for a test drive—requesting a $2,200 stand-alone unit with its own wooden countertop (to spare myself a renovation).
Not long afterwards, two massive boxes were delivered. One contained the unit, and the other, a huge bag of peat, mixing tubs, giant syringes, a pH meter, pH adjusting chemicals, liquid nutrient, seeds and—wait for it—an external memory drive to reprogram the circuit board, in which a bug had turned up, post-production.
This all came with the expected fistful of illiterate instructions, seemingly composed by the Chinese secret service with a view to sabotaging our industrial progress. Somehow I persevered, transitioning seamlessly from the electronic conundrum to stirring a tub of wet peat on the kitchen counter, and then—finally—seeding four trays.