As someone who is wildly obsessed with all things space, I like to play a little game called 'moon luggage', where I discuss the five items I'd take to the moon if I ever got plopped on a shuttle. Usually they're unrealistic items (like a king-sized bed — comfy but perhaps not moon-friendly), but my list has now extended to include something practical.
Having scoped out this tech recently, I'm convinced that I could make moon-living a goer if I could bring along a Rotofarm along with my other four essentials (a puppy, an endless supply of triple butter popcorn, my boyfriend and my Nintendo Switch).
This article is sponsored by Bace.co
The Rotofarm is a veggie patch for your kitchen — but not really the kind you'd expect. It looks kind of like a big fan, or even a big green eye, with a rotating head that houses and feeds 1.5 metres of veggie-growing space via nutrients and water deposits instead of soil.
The Rotofarm will be crowdfunded, so you'll be able to ensure its development by supporting its campaign. For as little as $2 on a level one pledge, you can help back the project (receiving a special thank-you email from the founder himself), all the way through to a pledge level seven for a laser-engraved Rotofarm and cover (at 33% off, for $1,999). It all depends on how much you want to contribute.
It works by completely rotating the plants over the course of an hour, suspending them in a kind of negative gravity for half the turning time. They're well prepared for space travel and moon living already — NASA already opts for zero-gravity plants on the International Space Station, so really, it's only a short hop, skip and a jump to the moon.
Produced by Bace and founded by science degree dropout and Melbournite, Toby Farmer, the rotating plant system is actually really cool and modern looking. It was even recognised by Dezeen magazine as one of the best new designs of 2019, beating out the Google Chromecast to crack the top 5.
And yes, the guy's surname really is Farmer. Doing the ancestors proud, I reckon.
The device also includes an automated LED light tube, imitating sunlight, smack bang in the centre of the cylinder. It's split into quadrants, with each quadrant capable of being set to a different level of brightness so that different plants get the light they require (without inadvertently pissing off their plant neighbours).
Even if I didn't take it to the moon though, I reckon it'd go off as a way of growing herbs and plants in sharehouses. It's only 30cm in diameter at the base, so it's not a colossal space-grabber, and given that I'm a notorious plant-killer with no discernible backyard, it could be a game-changer.
Fresh rosemary, home-grown for my pasta sauce? Please and thank you. Fragrant mint to whack in a smoothie when I'm under the weather on a Sunday morning? Brilliant. Tossing together some kale, lettuce and spinach when I want to convince myself I'm a healthy human? Genius.
And yes, if you're looking at this new kind of hydroponics set-up with red-tinged eyes, it could conceivably be used to grow cannabis. I'll be honest and say that I have no idea what kind of marijuana legislation we'd find on the moon, but JUST IMAGINE looking down at Earth while you're high. Revelatory.
If I'm being realistic, adding the Rotofarm to my list of moon luggage is probably the only practical choice I'd make. The crowdfunding campaign will be announced soon, so if it sounds like something that'd be right up your alley, you can back it and see it come to fruition.