Crop — A Garden On Your Kitchen Counter, With A Colourful Twist

Mathilde Redshaw
Jul 11, 2019 · 4 min read

As the world moves towards improved sustainable and healthy living, one of the key concerns for the consumer is where their food comes from. Tracing groceries back to where they originated becomes an almost impossible task when taking into account the number of steps from farm to fork. But what if you removed all of the middle-men, and just grew directly from your kitchen counter? Forward Fooding spoke to Michael Setton, CEO and Founder of Crop, to learn a bit more about being a start-up in the FoodTech world, with an interest on being environmentally conscious over all else.

So what’s your product?

So we produce essentially a micro-farm, which sits on your kitchen counter, allowing you to grow your very own microgreens and reduce your carbon footprint whilst increasing the amount of nutrients you’re getting in your plants.

What makes your product different to others?

Light. Our device uses smart LED lighting to help people fine-tune flavours via an app; so if you wanted to make more spicy basil, you’d select this in-app and it automatically sets the LED light colour, timing and watering sequence on the device, which optimises the growth cycle of the plant for your own taste. We make it easy and fuss free.

How did the idea behind Crop come about?

I discovered in 2015 that some semiconductors manufacturers such as Toshiba or Fujitsu started growing lettuce in their high tech multi billion silicon factories. I wanted to understand how advanced can bring improvement to farming and how one could grow food in new and innovative ways. I remember flying home from Amsterdam and I saw these huge indoor farms which seemed to be glowing with a yellow light, which I later learned was the optimum light conditions for their crop. The whole experience left me curious, about how light affected plants, and worried, as these large farms just didn’t seem to me to be sustainable.

I began to play around with light and growing microgreens on my kitchen counter, and the idea just snowballed. I was shocked by how much I could influence taste by changing the light I was using. I was having friends come over and blind taste-test mustards, and they could instantly tell which was sweeter, which was spicier, despite using the same mustard seeds.

That sounds crazy! Has much research gone into the subject?

I recommend having a look at this article here, and this article here. By controlling the light emitted by each LED, you can adjust its levels to produce sweeter stevia, more fragrant basil or hotter radishes.

So what kind of crops can you grow?

With our product, you can grow microgreens, which go from seed to plate in over a week. A microgreen is the seedling of a vegetables and herbs, so as the seed sprouts, it grows a little baby-plant — that could be cilantro, garnet amaranth, red cabbage…we have over 150 different seeds to choose from!

Why microgreens?

I was shocked by the statistics I read about herbs. After bananas, they’re the second most thrown-away product in supermarkets, and after all of the freezing, processing, and handling of the plants, by the time they get to you they have less than half of the nutrients they’re supposed to. The microgreens we grow, comparatively, are packed with nutrients. Due to their high antioxidant content, microgreens are considered a functional food, a food that promotes health or prevents disease. They’re also really tasty!

So what do you think the future of Crop looks like?

The long term goal is obviously to see our product in every home; we’re lucky that our target audience is really generic — growing things at home is fun for kids, food enthusiasts, anyone looking to be sustainable. But on a day to day basis, it’s all about doing the nitty gritty start-up work which gets us to that end goal, and promoting sustainability wherever we go!

Thanks for speaking to us — you can read more about Crop here.

Forward Fooding’s mission, from day one, has been to power the FoodTech revolution — Crop epitomises that goal, bringing together healthier eating with sustainability. The community Forward Fooding has fostered, where collaboration between start-ups, investors, and corporations, are key, is ever-growing, with over 10,000+ Food and FoodTech innovators now all working together towards the common goal of a food revolution. If you’d like to be part of the community and join the conversation, find us here.

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