‘Just Vertical is finding sustainable solutions to help feed our planet and curb the effects of climate change
Just Vertical is leading the charge on bringing food production indoors by creating a system that rapidly produces fresh food while preserving the earth’s resources.
With communities quickly growing across the globe and with an increasingly fragile and strained food system, finding sustainable food production solutions is a hard task for anyone to take on, but not for Just Vertical. Founded in 2017 by Conner Tidd and Kevin Jakiela at the University of Toronto, Just Vertical marries science, functionality, and beauty with a mission to make our world a better place.
Inspired by the lack of a sustainable food system and determined to find a solution to feed and save our planet, Just Vertical created the AEVA, an indoor vertical garden. The AEVA addresses pressing global issues such as sustainability and food insecurity, and it does so through a cost-effective hydroponic garden. This system rapidly produces fresh food while decreasing carbon footprint, all from the comfort of your own home.
Just Vertical is clearly more than just a local food movement, it is a truly sustainable solution that empowers people to be part of a greater mission to help our planet. The dream of growing fresh food in your home is now a reality.
Who is Conner Tidd and Kevin Jakiela? How did your journey begin?
Just Vertical: “Conner is an avid sustainability strategist and innovator. He has a breadth of management experience working internationally in the not-for-profit sector as well as tackling sustainability and innovation challenges in the agricultural industry. Throughout his career, Conner was recognized for his work as a Clean50 emerging leader and a” Top 30 under 30″ sustainability and human rights leader.
Kevin is a chemist and plant scientist, with specialized experience in commercial hydroponics as well as addressing national health challenges across Canada. Meeting at the University of Toronto’s Masters in Sustainability program Kevin and Conner were inspired to find a sustainable solution to feed and save our planet. Together, they created a system that rapidly produces fresh food and preserves the earth’s resources, all from the comfort of your own home“
Why Just Vertical? Why focus on hydroponic garden systems?
Just Vertical: “Conner began his career by working in agriculture and began to realize the publics’ large mistrust in the agricultural business. Meanwhile, Kevin was working on using hydroponic systems to grow fruits and vegetables in the Canadian Arctic. When the two met in their master’s program they shared a common goal of changing the way people know and grow their produce and they had Kevin’s experience with vertical farming to make this happen.
The two teamed up and started looking for a solution—an urban farming device that would allow just about anyone to grow vegetables indoors. This product would become the AEVA and it was designed to grow produce more efficiently, reduce food waste, and to bring the joy of gardening to those who don’t have the space to create one in their backyard.”
Just Vertical aims to empower people to be part of the solution in saving our planet through your product the AEVA. Can you tell us how you got the initial idea and how you turned into reality?
Just Vertical: “Before creating the AEVA Conner and Kevin resold a vertical farming product that was for larger-scale farming. Working with this product gave them the ability to understand what was needed to create a vertical farming product for the home.
They realized that the product couldn’t just function well but it also needed to feel like it belonged in the home. Thus, they designed the AEVA a product made for vertical farming in the home that combines a modern furniture design with a vertical farming apparatus that is easy to use.”
What are the major issues, biggest challenges or struggles, and constraints of the design process?
Just Vertical: “The biggest constraint was creating a piece of high-tech furniture that visually fits in the home and can also grow full-size fruits, herbs and vegetables. To do this every detail of the growing space had to be meticulously planned and tested, from the number of plant sites to the orientation of the grow lights.
All of this was done with the intention to make the AEVA have science and design blended into one seamless piece. Many of our competitors struggle with this they either have units that are small enough to easily fit in the home but don’t grow plants to full size or are large enough to grow efficiently but take up too much space to fit into an average home. With the AEVA, Just Vertical strove to combine the at-home fit of a smaller unit with the large yields that a larger unit could produce.”
What are the most significant design aspects of the AEVA?
Just Vertical: “The AEVA has a wood cabinet and frame with a plastic interior. The contrast between dark and light between the inside and outside of the AEVA is made more prominent by the LED plant lights. We are the only indoor garden on the market that integrated wood into the design. From the technology perspective this is difficult as wood and water don’t get along well but it results in a great visual effect. The wood brings an earthy feel to the unit that connects the home, the user, and the plants as one. Finally, the unit is finished with chrome legs.”
What are the challenges and goals for Just Vertical in the near future?
Just Vertical: “The goal for Just Vertical is to make vertical farming a staple in everyone’s home like an electric toaster or a microwave. To do this we want to create a line of furniture that is integrated with vertical farming. The next step in this mission will be launching the EVE in mid-summer.
The EVE will be a smaller version of the AEVA it will include 12 plant holes instead of 16 and will be approximately half the width and 3 quarters of the height of the AEVA. It will also be more affordable being priced at approximately 600 Canadian dollars. With the launch of the EVE we hope to make vertical farming even more accessible for the home.”
If you want to know more about products that include hydroponic systems in their design, don’t miss terraplanter rethinks indoor pots without the use of soil or dirt.