#1. By 2050 we need to produce ~ 70% more food to feed a population of ~10 billion.
# 2 Fresh water on the planet is rapidly being depleted, polluted, or both.
# 3 Crops can be wiped out without warning by weather extremes caused by climate change. *
The Middle East North Africa region, Syria, Yemen, and other areas of the world are running out of water. Mexico City is severely water challenged as is Cape Town South Africa. Sao Paulo Brazil, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere was close to a severe water crisis just a few years ago, as was the state of California.
Note: Agriculture is the single largest user of surface water. When abundant rainfall refills depleted reservoirs, it gives a false impression of a return to normal. However, ancient aquifers that took eons to form are lower than ever.
# 4 On average, a meal in the US travels 1,500 miles to the table.
# 5 Ballooning healthcare costs are directly related to declining food quality. **
# 6 Corporations controlling our food supply are not primarily concerned with our health.
Is There A Home Grown Solution To These Problems?
By the end of WWII 50% of households in the US grew 40% of the nations' produce in Victory Gardens in backyards, vacant lots, and on rooftops. This translates to a potential for something like 50 million Victory Gardens in the US today, and 1 billion worldwide. There's a lot of security and satisfaction in having a vegetable garden, but few among us have a patch of decent soil to work with, or the time for tilling, weeding, watering, fertilizing, etc.
What About Hydroponics?
Commercial hydroponic operations are popping up all over. When will average people be able to use this technology?
Let's review the timeline of modern hydroponics:
1929 Modern Hydroponics got it's start at UC Berkeley.
1940's Hydroponics was used on Pacific islands to help feed troops.
1960's Walt Disney included hydroponics in his plans for EPCOT, which is still a premier showcase of what can be done with hydroponics.
1970's & 80's Hydroponic hobby stores start opening, catering primarily to connoisseurs of cannabis.
1990's Commercial hydroponics grew rapidly, with at least one operation covering hundreds of acres under glass.
2000's Many hundreds of additional hydroponic hobby stores open in the US, but key technology is lacking for this to go mainstream.
2010's Technological advancements in unrelated fields, along with new inventions can be used to create hydroponic systems suitable for average people to grow thousands of pounds of food in a typical backyard.
In the near future tens of millions of users could adopt this advanced growing technology in the way personal computers were adopted in the 1980's.
What will it take to get hydroponics in the hands of consumers?
1. It has to be extremely easy to understand and to use.
2. It has to be cost effective. If it pays for itself in a season, its cost effective.
3. It has to be aesthetically pleasing.
High Performance Gardening
1. Our systems are simple enough for beginners and sophisticated enough for advanced users.
2. They can grow enough of everything normally grown in a Victory Garden to be able to pay for itself in a single season.
3. These systems are simple, sophisticated, and elegant.
In the US:
42 million home gardeners (#1 hobby)
16 million vegetarians (quality counts)
31 million foodies (highest quality counts)
4 million survivalists (independence is vital)
1,600 retail stores selling hydroponics (demand is there)
3-5 million hydroponic hobbyists (evangelists ready to promote better systems)
2 million raw food enthusiasts (hyper-aware of nutritional content)
Other regions of the world likely have different, or possibly more urgent priorities, such as hunger, drought, political turmoil, etc.
In some regions the need for this technology is currently acute. In other regions we can predict it will become more acute in the near future, and mega-trends indicate demand for this technology will increase exponentially around the world for the foreseeable future. This will be true for commercial and consumer systems.