“Revolutionizing Education: Vertical Farming Comes to K-12 with Babylon Micro-Farms”

In an e-mail exchange, Babylon Micro-Farms CEO Alexander Olesson tells me “we’ll have these in every school and apartment one day.” It’s a nice vision, and really the level of belief/commitment required to run a startup – particularly in a field as oft-fraught at vertical farming. With a price point of $6,500, howver, the STEM Garden isn’t likely arriving in too many homes in the near term. Virginia-based Babylon Micro-farms has long distinguished itself from much of the vertical farming world with its focus on smaller spaces and the new system further shrinks that footprint. Where previous models were focused on higher ed, the STEM Garden is specifically tackling K-9, which tends not to have as deep pockets. The STEM garden is up for pre-order starting today and will start shipping to classes in Q2.

In an e-mail exchange, Babylon Micro-Farms CEO Alexander Olesson shares his vision of providing every school and apartment with our innovative technology one day. It’s an admirable goal that requires immense belief and commitment, especially in the challenging field of vertical farming. However, with its current price of $6,500, the STEM Garden may not be making its way into many homes in the near future.

While the idea of having my own vertical farm in my Queens apartment sounds enticing, it seems like a dream that will have to wait a decade or two. But the release of the STEM Garden is definitely a step in the right direction. Priced at half of its $15,000 predecessor, it’s clear that Babylon Micro-Farms is targeting the education market with its latest product.

As the name suggests, the STEM Garden is specifically designed for educational purposes. This is a common trend among tech companies that specialize in cutting-edge consumer products, such as Makerbot and Sphero. Based in Virginia, Babylon Micro-Farms has differentiated itself from other vertical farming companies by focusing on smaller spaces. And with this new system, they have managed to further shrink their already small footprint.

While companies like Bowery are revamping entire warehouses into indoor green spaces, Babylon Micro-Farms‘ customer base includes hotels, hospitals, corporate spaces, and even Ikea. For anyone who has ever worked in a dull office, the value of adding some greenery to the space is undeniable. And as a bonus, you can even harvest your own salad for lunch! However, it’s important to note that the yield may not be enough to sustain a year-round food supply. Big vertical farms aim to decentralize and localize farming, but with the STEM Garden, Babylon Micro-Farms is taking it to a more intimate level.

Aside from the commercial market, Babylon Micro-Farms has also targeted the education sector. While specific numbers have not been disclosed, it has shipped units to hundreds of locations. Educators have expressed an interest in a more affordable option, which led to the development of the STEM Garden. Previous models were mainly focused on higher education, but this new product is specifically tailored for grades K-9, where budgets may not be as generous.

To reduce the cost, the STEM Garden has been shrunk in size to fit inside a cabinet, rather than a bookshelf. The number of tiers and plant sites have also been reduced, making it easier for K-9 students to manage. However, this means that the plants need to be hand-watered, and certain features like remote monitoring and live support have been left out.

The STEM Garden offers curriculum integration for learning, staying true to the name’s STEM pun. And let’s be honest, not having cameras on a device that might be around young children is probably for the best.

The STEM Garden is now available for pre-order and will start shipping to classrooms in Q2. Meanwhile, I’ll just have to continue waiting for my own micro-farm.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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