A hi-tech breakthrough and affordable home gardening system to grow your own healthy food, solving the problem of rising produce prices and limited availability.
STORY BY GRACE XANTHOS
Today, Americans are facing a new set of fresh food challenges: contaminated soil, pesticides, lack of space, radiation, harsh weather conditions, limited time, dwindling sources of clean water, and few readily accessible heirloom seed options.
Food prices continue to go up,and food choices continue to go down. As we learn more about the dangers of consuming foods filled with preservatives and coated with chemicals, there is increased demand to take matters in our own hands and grow our own food.
Enter, Mobile Farming Systems (MFS), which recently developed a hydroponic home growing system called H20 Gro—a simple solution to our food preservative and pesticide problems that represents a home- grown food revolution.
The H2O Gro Backyard Produce Stand can grow herbs, vegetables and flowers outdoors or indoors. It’simple to set up and operate, just fill the reservoir with water, add nutrients and turn it on.
Growing racks hold advanced technology seed pods (no dirt!) and the ingenious design delivers a constant feeding of water, nutrients and oxygen right to the roots of your plants.
With a unique design under patent to Mobile Farming Systems—a local business that supplies heirloom seeds—will package seeds in small, pod-like containers that you simply pop-in and pop-out of the H20 Gro Backyard Produce Stand. The pods are similar to the individual-serving cups that come with higher-end coffee pots.
To save time, customers will be able to order special, pre-sorted variety packs of fruits and vegetables that can be grown throughout the year.
For example, a box of 12 tomato or lettuce seed cups comes in the mail. You pop one in, and 30 days later you have a fresh, large, and leafy head of lettuce. Simply pick the lettuce, take out the old cup and add a new one, starting the process again.
Heirloom seeds are those that have been passed down from generation to generation within families or seed companies because they taste good, grow well, and work for many types of gardeners. And because they aren’t genetically modified, the seeds are certified heirloom and the perfect fit for Mobile Farming System products.
One H2O Gro Backyard Produce Stand can grow a variety of green leafy vegetables along with herbs and fruits— all at the same time, depending on individual choice and taste. By rotating when you pop in each packet and use the appropriate seasonal packet that comes with your unit, you could, for example, have a fresh head of lettuce and several tomatoes every day.
When needed, customers simply order a “refill” of 4, 6, or 12 seed packs. They unwrap the pod they want, put it in the rack, and watch it grow. The roots grow out of the bottom of the seed pod, which can be recycled, after the produce is harvested.
In May 2012, Greenhouse Management reported that “a study from local market research firm Scarborough reveals that of the nearly 164 million homeowners in the United States, nearly half (49 percent) gardened in the past 12 months.” That’s roughly 80 million people growing their own food.
Fast-forward to 2013, and the timing of innovative home gardening solutions could not be better.
Not only are more and more people jumping on the bandwagon of health and fitness, but as Mother Earth News put it, “The worse the economy, the more people garden.” Why? It saves money, and it’s healthy. As far back as the 1980’s, it was estimated that every $32 of home-gardening investment realized over $350 per year in produce savings. Not only that, but when flowers and decorative plants are added, gardening is also one of the top two leisure time activities.
Anyone reading this magazine would agree that food doesn’t get much better than home-grown and fresh, or what many health-centered eateries call “Garden to Table” dining: a movement about eating locally and sustainably, while knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced. In the past, healthy home gardening was simply not an option for the busy executive or the single parent with no time or space for digging, planting, tending, and harvesting. However, America is about to see that a Palm Springs-based company, Mobile Farming Systems, has conquered these problems and more.
The most effective way to insulate ourselves and families from the dangers of contaminated foods, pesticides and rising food prices, is to grow our own food. Growing a garden gives us control over a significant portion of our food supply, while providing monetary benefits.
Starting in mid-2013, Mobile Farming Systems (MFS) will be fully prepared to provide individuals and communities with everything needed to grow their own food affordably and easily.
MFS is an agriculture technology company that focuses on helping people grow their own organic foods through the use of a residential hydroponic growing system. Hydroponic gardening is familiar to many of our readers. However, if you are new to organic growing, hydroponics provides a way to grow plants using mineral nutrient water solutions with no soil or pesticides. Almost any herb, vegetable, fruit, or even flowers will grow with hydroponics.
MFS has developed a new method of vertical hydroponic gardening systems that requires no soil, only 10% of the normal amount of water, 1/3 of the average time investment, and has a shorter growing season. The H2O Gro Backyard Produce Stand, was designed for the backyard gardener —those who don’t have a backyard. It is lightweight, ships easily and needs very little upkeep.
The H2O Gro units stack on and run from a base that is only 24 inches wide by 33 inches long. Each base can run two vertical units, which snap together to extend—much like the Hotwheel tracks many of us played with as children. They are light, easy to put together, and have growing trays that are dishwasher safe.
Larger units with full-garden capacity come built in towable trailers, ranging from 16 to 43 feet in length. They can be deployed to remote locations in only a few days, and they can be up and running in just a few hours. Large towable units currently require only three hookups: power, water, and a drain. They are designed to be plug-and-go units for maximum efficiency and crop yields. MFS estimates that an average 40-foot mobile system can produce the equivalent of one acre of farmland (e.g., 20,000 heads of lettuce) a year.
Although initial H2O Gro Backyard Produce Stands and towable food trailers are designed to run on electricity, research is ongoing for future battery, wind, and solar applications, which will hopefully be available in the very near future. In the meantime, electric and battery powered units will be available later this year. This will allow any gardener, anywhere to have “plug and play units” that will have crops growing quickly and efficiently.
The MFS state-of-the-art gardening units can be used by single individuals on patios, balconies or in trailers, homes and apartments with artificial light. So food can be grown outside or inside, by a single individual or, perhaps the most important innovation – by a group working on mobilizing supplies to feed the hungry or provide disaster relief.
Just imagine the fresh fruits and vegetables that could have been quickly provided to those who faced the post-Katrina devastation or the irradiated coastland following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. On the homefront, imagine being able to cook for your family using food you know is safe, readily available, and costs less than the organic alternatives at the local supermarket.
Are you aware of just how much fresh produce really costs? According to Cary Blake’s “Cost Survey for Lettuce Industry” (Western Farm Press, 2010), the cost of simply growing lettuce in the Salinas Valley of California is outrageous: “The survey results peg the average costs to grow one acre of iceberg lettuce crop at $7,999; $8,847 for romaine hearts/acre; and $9,112 for organic leaf lettuce/acre.
The costs include production, overhead, and harvest expenditures. Lettuce production costs have jumped $500-$800 per acre since 2001.
As most readers know, this often translates into organic lettuce prices of around $4 a head at market. Luckily, Mobile Farming Systems offers the solution: hydroponic growing units and low-cost seed pods of heirloom seed collections that are prepackaged for seasonal appropriateness and taste diversity.
You can grow produce yourself at a fraction of the cost and know it is completely pesticide and chemical free.
Mobile Farming Systems began with the VegBuddy: the “Vertical Earth Garden.” Featured in last summer’s edition of Going Organic, the beautiful, taller, ceramic unit started all the buzz you may have heard about regarding MFS. The VegBuddy will continue to represent the retail market of MFS, being offered at home and kitchen stores. It can be made in a variety of attractive finishes: colored ceramics, ABS plastic, powder-coated aluminum, or a sleek, stainless steel version.
The VegBuddy has the potential for higher yields per-unit, but is too heavy to easily ship by mail-order. Thus, the company’s founders spent almost two years on research and development to come up with the lighter weight, easily shippable H2O Gro Backyard Produce Stands for their mass-market campaign. Of course, those who want to pool their green thumbs and greenbacks can purchase a towable trailer to grow an entire garden-full of produce to meet a community’s needs. Thus, there will be something for everyone.
In the Summer 2012 edition of Going Organic, readers were introduced to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and the Coachella Valley Innovation Hub (CViHub), located in Palm Springs—CViHub is one of only 12 state-designated groups aimed at stimulating economic growth and job development by leveraging public assets to incubate businesses with a high potential for growth. In the case of the CViHub, the selected start-ups all deal with common areas of research and development: renewable energy, green technology, and sustainability.
Mobile Farming Systems is one of the companies being incubated at the CViHub. Several companies have already moved into a large manufacturing and office space near Palm Springs airport, called the CViHub Accelerator Campus, and the founders are busy buying local supplies, recruiting local employees, and designing a local roll-out campaign for mid-2013. Thus, what started as a few entrepreneurs coming together to share ideas and research has become a new and growing business venture in Palm Springs.
More importantly to our readers, the products under construction by Mobile Farming Systems provide innovative ways to grow a wide variety of fresh food faster, cheaper, and locally. The CEO of Mobile Farming Systems (MFS), Richard O’Connor, and Vice President Amy Cooper point out that all you need to grow your own healthy food with MFS is to “buy an H2O Gro Backyard Produce Stand, plug it in, pour in the water and nutrients, pop in the patentpending seed cups, and add gravity.” Within about 30 days, a variety of fresh garden-to-table fruits and vegetables are ready to pick and serve.
Getting together the right combination of people who met under wonderfully synchronistic circumstances was, of course, the first step. After all, the farming systems under design represent a complete paradigm shift in the way produce is grown. So who are the synergistic individuals whose hard work is paving the way for the home-grown food revolution? Let’s take a look:
Richard “Rick” J. Probst, President and CFO of Mobile Farming Systems (MFS), is a seasoned executive with experience in finance, technology, manufacturing, and construction. Rick has successfully created several startup companies, including an Internet Service Provider that was acquired by Mail.com Media Corp. He is a former Board Member for Mail.com Media Corp. (now Penske Media Corp.), and he owns Pro Fab Tech, LLC (www.ProFabTech.net), a steel and aluminum manufacturing facility in Southern California, as well as Tow and Grow, Inc., a manufacturer of Advanced Hydroponic Systems.
Richard O’Connor, CEO of MFS, brings 25 years of experience in financial services, including investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, and startups to his new entrepreneurial adventures in hydroponics. Most recently, Richard successfully assisted in the funding of the first two rounds of financing of Mail.com Media Corp. He is the former President of Los Alamos Energy, a public alternative energy company (“OUTT”). In addition, he has had extensive experience in sales and marketing, including infomercial creation and distribution, in which he was nominated for several NIMA awards.
Amy Cooper, Vice President of Business Development for MFS, has over 15 years of experience in strategic marketing and sales. Prior to joining MFS, Amy was Vice President of Business Development for Allvoices, responsible for product development and major customer acquisitions. Amy was also the co-founder and Vice President of Corporate Development of Codent Networks, a voice-over-broadband networking communications company with operations in the U.S. and China. She has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has worked in a variety of roles at numerous startups in the telecommunications and networking service industry.
For their 2013 infomercial campaign, MFS is partnering with Denise DuBarry Hay, an accomplished actress, yoga instructor, and the founder and current President of Kaswit, Inc., a global leader in the direct response marketing industry.
The average home food garden is 600 square foot in area and produces only ½ pound of fresh produce per square foot per yield. Sadly, many Americans don’t have that much spare space of good soil in appropriate sunlight, and most aren’t able to grow fresh food all year in all weather conditions even if they do. However, MFS offers the solution—all weather, all year produce grown with little space and no soil.
Most health professionals agree that almost everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables. However, purchasing healthy, fresh foods can be time consuming and costly. As food costs continue to rise and food availability continues to diminish, there is a great need for a new way to go and a new way to grow. Again, MFS offers the solution—affordable and abundantly available all-natural, water and nutrient-grown food, picked fresh from your own home daily.
Many of us have read recent studies showing that pesticides commonly used on fruits and vegetables are linked to disabilities in children, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and learning problems. Medical literature indicates that various types of cancer, infertility risks, and a host of neurological disorders can result from over-exposure to food contaminants. Fortunately, MFS offers a safe growing alternative that does not require pesticides or even the risks associated with chemically-contaminated soil or water run-off.
Sadly, our produce often travels hundreds of miles to grocery store shelves and is handled by many sets of hands, which means a greater chance of e-Coli and Salmonella exposure. The reality is that if you don’t grow it, you don’t know where it comes from or who has handled it. MFS offers the solution for this growing crisis as well—clean, safe, fresh, home-grown produce.
So is there potential here? You bet— real growth potential!
To let the world discover the many benefits of owning the H20 Gro, Mobile Farming Systems will be working with Denise DuBarry, founder and President of Kaswit, a direct response marketing company, who will produce an infomercial to market the H2O Gro.
Denise has a professional and personal interest in H2O Gro. A part-time resident of La Quinta, Denise bought property in Hawaii with her husband to start an organic farm and believes that food quality issues are going to become more and more critical in the future. Although H20 Gro hydroponic technology grows food quickly, she states, “Eating healthy is about ‘slow food vs fast food’. People will be empowered to grow their own food with this product. It’s a good thing to do.”
“So many don’t know where their food comes from. It comes from all over the world and we don’t know how it was treated. With H2O Gro, people will know where their food is coming from. They’ll watch it grow. Many people have never seen a garden. It’s a great educational tool for families to see how food is grown, and it will lower food costs,” adds Denise.
Because the H2O Gro can grow food just about anywhere, inside or outside, she says that people who live in apartments or don’t have the space to garden, will now have a great way to grow their own food. For those who already garden, the product will provide a bountiful back patio garden. Given H2O Gro’s mobility, flexibility and hydroponic technology that allows for a broad range of food variety that will grow quickly, Denise predicts that the H2O Gro will revolutionize patio gardening and says, “I’m very excited about it. I think anyone who is health conscious is going to love this product. It’s for families and individuals who want to make intelligent health choices.”
Denise DuBarry is an actress, businesswoman, film producer, and philanthropist. She co-founded Thane International, Inc. a global leader in the direct response industry with her husband, Bill Hay. She was chief creative officer for 15 years, green lighting projects and overseeing production. DuBarry developed projects such as “Play The Piano Overnight,”“California Beauty,” “Orbi-Trek Total Body Trainer,” among many more that have grossed over one billion dollars. DuBarry sold her company Thane International and remains a majority shareholder. Her current infomercial production company, Kaswit, Inc., established in 2005, has produced “Don Sullivan’s Secrets to Training the Perfect Dog” and “The Pilates Power Gym.”
Denise is involved with the local desert community and became president of Palm Springs Women in Film & Television, a non-profit organization whose goal is to empower women in the film and television industry to help advance their careers through networking and mentoring programs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION & INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES, PLEASE CONTACT:
Richard O’Connor, CEO
Mobile Farming Systems, Inc.
(877) 678-8009 Office & Fax / (760) 409-6464 Cell