New York artists Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray launched Windowfarms in February 2009 with the goal of creating a hydroponic growing system so inexpensive and easy to replicate that inner city dwellers would be inspired to grow their own food. The vertical vegetable gardens were designed to be made from recycled materials or inexpensive items from the local hardware store.
Windowfarms made their initial design available on the internet and after 7 months and a mere $5,000 investment their idea took off. Articles turned up in Grist, Art in America, Wired Blog and others, along with hundreds of thousands of hits on their website from all over the world. The public embraced the simple design and submitted ideas for improvements. “A distributed network of individuals sharing information can implement a wide variety of designs that accommodate specific local needs and implement them locally. Ordinary people can bring about innovative green ideas and popularize them quickly. Web theorists claim that this capacity to ‘organize without hierarchical organization’ will be a fundamental shift in our society brought about by the web over the coming decades.” To date, 29 viable designs have been submitted and windowfarms are popping up all over the world.