Home Building Trends: Indoor Kitchen Gardens Taking Root

Novel now, but perhaps the way of the future? Zero mile-sourced produce.

Novel now in the U.S., but perhaps the way of the future? Zero mile-sourced produce. (Photos: courtesy of Urban Cultivator)

It doesn’t get any more local than this: herbs, microgreens, vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers grown right in the kitchen.  

“Edible indoor gardens in cupboards and closets are taking Europe by storm, and we are seeing them in New York, now, too,” said home improvement expert Karl Champley, adding that trends tend to start in Europe, then hit the U.S. coasts and move inward, so we can expect it will soon be a local norm.

The Australian-born Master Builder is in a position to know. As a property developer, residential building consultant, and host of HGTV’s home improvement shows DIY to the Rescue and Wasted Spaces, he closely follows global home design. He shared insights on home building trends as a panelist at the Masonite DFW Trend Council talk Candy Evans moderated in the Dallas Design District recently.

Champley credits the current popularity of gardening in general to increasing consumer desires to spend more time at home, entertain in outdoor living spaces, and eat healthy, organic foods. What started with planting herbs in an outdoor kitchen area so a homeowner could reach out and grab a handful to add to grilled food on the spot is now gravitating indoors.

But how? Few of us have enough natural light inside our houses, not to mention the time to care for plants indoors. Here’s a short list of products that can make it feasible…

First, the luxest system, from Urban Cultivator: A first glimpse of this wine cooler-looking appliance filled with plants might cause you to do a double-take to ascertain what the owner is growing.

Indeed, Urban Cultivator founder Tarren Wolfe’s background was in developing equipment for medical marijuana cultivation before he launched this company geared toward enabling amateur and professional chefs to grow herbs and microgreens onsite. The beautifully lighted cabinets are available in a residential (dishwasher) size that can fit under a countertop or stand alone, and a commercial (refrigerator) size for larger operations.

The units are programmable as to light, air circulation, temperature and humidity, and can be used to grow produce hydroponically or with soil, with or without connection to a water source. Urban Cultivator products are available in North Texas through the Butter of Dallas showroom, starting at around $2,500.

Photos courtesy of Urban Cultivator

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A mid-range and space-efficient option for indoor or outdoor gardening is an aeroponic garden tower, available through internet sources and locally, with turnkey setup and maintenance options, through Deep Ellum-based Vertical Life Farms, starting at around $525.

Photo courtesy Vertical Life Farms

Photo: courtesy Vertical Life Farms

And on a small scale, Click and Grow’s NASA-inspired Smart Herb Garden ($59.95)  is as effortless as it gets.  Pop in plant capsules, fill the water tank, and built-in sensors monitor and control delivery of the right amount of  nutrients and moisture for the plants to thrive.

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Photo courtesy Click and Grow

A major benefit to all of the above is that a kitchen-based garden require no pesticides. And, aesthetically, it adds a natural element and a nice pop of green to contemporary neutral-toned decor.

“This is a way to bring the outdoors inside,” Champley notes.  Good to know here in North Texas, where temperatures are already close to triple digits, and come late July and August even the most avid gardener’s outdoor vegetable patch is pretty much dust. 

Would you consider growing your greens inside with one of these units?