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Written by: Miguel Amado on Nov 22nd, 2022

Natufia 2023: Indoor Farming Technology for the Home

Eating healthily and having complete control over the way our food is produced is no easy task – organic ingredients can be expensive, and growing your own at home can be challenging. 

With that in mind, Natufia’s goal is to allow consumers to transform the way they eat by helping them to grow food in their own kitchens – up to 32 different varieties of plants at the same time. We talked with Gregory Lu, co-founder and CEO, to find out more. 

Can you explain more about what Natufia does and how it started?

The company started about five years ago – its concept is to enable people to grow tasty and nutritious food at home all year round. In the first three years, we focused on the technology that would allow people to do that.

Imagine a fridge-sized unit that takes care of the growing automatically by creating the perfect environment for seeds and plants. Imagine having a supply of fresh and nutritious vegetables at your fingertips all year round. This can all happen in just three easy steps:

Firstly, you need to place the seedpods into the nursery drawer to allow the seeds to germinate. After around 10 days, you’ll get a seedling a few centimeters high.

Then, you move the seed pod into the main chamber and watch it grow for another 10 to 20 days, after which you can harvest. The technology behind it is automated hydroponics – it allows plants to grow without soil, with their roots directly in water that is enriched with nutrients and minerals.

Currently, Natufia can grow a variety of leafy greens such as lettuces, kale, and arugula; herbs like rosemary and thyme; dwarf vegetables such as baby aubergines, cherry tomatoes, and chili peppers, and edible and medicinal flowers like chamomile, lavender, roses, and more. We’ve tested more than 120 plant species and have around 40 on the market, mostly for logistic purposes.

In the Natufia unit, you can grow up to 32 plants at the same time, offering an estimated one to two servings of fresh salad per day. We offer our seeds in the form of seed pods, however, we also offer empty seed pods so you can use your own.

Does this process take less time than planting vegetables in the garden?

Yes, absolutely. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space for planting and growing, and a favorable climate, there’s a lot of maintenance involved, including fighting against pests. You don’t have to worry about any of that, nor use pesticides, in the Natufia Kitchen Garden.

It’s less time-consuming and you’ll have high-quality food without having to worry about the adversities that come with the conventional way of growing your own food.

Who is the Natufia customer?

More and more people are becoming health-conscious, regardless of their age or gender. Not only do people want to consume more greens but they also want more from their food, such as improved nutrient density.

Then there are people who consider themselves foodies and who are looking for greater variety in their diets, for example, getting hold of ingredients that are not grown locally or out of season. This is where Natufia can cater to such lifestyle preferences and food habits.

Then we have an environmentally oriented community that practices sustainability in their daily lives. Natufia’s mission is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and owning a unit means being part of responsible consumption and production, and contributing to climate action.

One of the obstacles of eating healthily is often the cost – does the Natufia work out cheaper than buying from a local supermarket?

We’ve done a lot of calculations on that. And yes, the point of Natufia is that it makes sense financially as well. There’s no point in building a machine that costs you two or three times more than shopping at a supermarket, even if the salad is better and more nutritious.

The cost of the Natufia should be seen as an investment and, depending on where you live, it pays for itself in three to six years. If you live in New York – where the price of salad is $3 to $4 per portion – you’ll amortize it pretty fast. If you live in Egypt, where the food in winter is quite cheap in terms of grains, then it will take more time.  

What’s next for Natufia?

Next year we have a product coming out for a fraction of the cost of our current Natufia kitchen garden, utilizing Natufia proprietary technology. It’ll be simpler but will allow people to start enjoying Natufia products for less.

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