Urban Edibles was essentially born out of the frustrations of one of our founders Marten Witkamp. Over lunch at the Hub Rotterdam one day Marten was lamenting to Eefje Ernst that he couldn’t understand why even the basil plants he bought from the supermarket always died on him. Eefje being a social designer immediately threw up various ideas for what kind of products and services could support someone like Marten. Fellow Hub member Sophia van Ruth was quickly drawn into the conversation to provide the plant knowledge and Urban Edibles was born (and by the way, Sophia immediately solved the dying basil issue – click here to see).
We began working on what we were then calling the “urban farming toolkit”, but quickly realised that a generic toolkit was simply not possible. Some people had a balcony in the full shade and others a windowsill in full sun. Some people wanted to grow rare plants nobody had ever heard of to impress potential lovers, others just wanted to grow something with their kids. Some people could spend lots of time every day with the plants and others barely a half hour per week. We needed a way of tailoring the toolkit to suit the situation.
Our original response was to generate an online piece of software to match plants to people. Take a look at the video…
We worked long and hard on this product, but eventually chose to shift our focus to face to face education, personal consultations and the release of ebooks. The online tool simply demanded more time to develop than our software developer (Marten) had available.
By this time we had already put many hundreds of hours of research into a methodology for matching plants to people and also into solutions for all the different scenarios we could conceive of. The rich database of knowledge we amassed continues to inform our work, we draw on it most heavily in our guided design evenings where we support people in creating a personalised planting strategy and layout for their home.
Our products and services are, of course, continually developing but are always underpinned by a desire to cater to busy citysiders who may not have gardens. We continue to believe in a personal approach and not a generic quick fix and we provide solutions for apartment balconies and rooftops – or even windowsills. The core of our philosophy rests on matching solutions to people – both to their lifestyles, their motivations and their physical situation. We are direct and to the point, if you don’t have the time to read two books on the issues and just want the lowdown from someone who has, then our products and services are for you! We want to play a part in transforming the way people live in cities. To this end we keep abreast of trends and issues surrounding food production with the aim of building healthier urban communities.