This self-sufficient planter + composter takes the work out of indoor gardening

To reduce their environmental impact, my parents started composting their food waste. Great idea, but there are two small issues with setting them up: one, my parents aren’t gardeners, so the resulting manure is usually strewn over empty soil beds (which the weeds like), and two , the composter lives in the backyard, which means they keep a plastic container on the back porch for their discarded orange peels and wilted salad (not the prettiest sight). Overall, the composter doesn’t perform to its full potential, as it doesn’t suit my parents’ lifestyle.

Upgrade to the sustainable family farm, a miniature composter and planter that is best suited for indoor living. When I saw this drawing, my first thought was Ah-hah, the perfect Christmas present for my parents…in theory, since it hasn’t hit the market yet. A mini-composter is not a new idea; in fact, you can make your own using a plastic jug, soil, and worms. However, the Sustainable Family Farm stands out in two ways: first, by fitting perfectly into the household whatever the gardening/composting experience of the members, secondly, by making gardening a fun experience for the family.

The product accomplishes this first point by utilizing all household food scraps without requiring much extra effort. All you have to do is throw your compostable waste into the plant incubator and watch your vegetables grow. The amount of maintenance needed for gardening depends on the seeds you choose – and there are plenty of low-maintenance options, like basil or cilantro. The Sustainable Family Farm achieves its second goal, making gardening fun through the power of smartphones. The planter has a companion app, which treats gardening like a game, showing plant growth stages as “levels” for your actual vegetables. If you were a teenager in the late 2000s, you might remember the famous Facebook game, farmville? Imagine this concept but in real life. Or, you know…regular farming. (Jeez, I exposed myself as a phone-addicted city dweller.)

The sustainable family farm, I think, is one of the most accessible urban planter concepts I’ve seen. Its low maintenance process allows anyone to grow herbs or small vegetables as easily as possible. All you need to do is buy the seeds and worms to get started – the circle of life takes care of the rest.

This concept won the European Product Design Award in the categories “Home Interior Products/Household Appliances” and “Design for Society/Design for Sustainability”. An earlier version of this design was also featured on Yanko Design.

Creator: Chaozhi Lin