MEG (Micro Experimental Growing) is the world’s first social, open-source and automated greenhouse that allows users to manage plant cultivation through an online platform. Growers can monitor all necessary details for a living plant, controlling everything from internal climate to lighting cycles straight from a smartphone or tablet.
This innovation is the brainchild of Italian lighting design agency Yradia, in an effort to demonstrate that just about anything can be grown in any location — whether natural or artificial. The greenhouse is just about the size of a vending machine and is driven by an Arduino Mega 25600 (ATmega2560) based control board.
A user can easily control all key aspects required to create an ideal environment of their plants to prosper, such as light cycles, ventilation, temperature, irrigation, soil acidity and alkalinity, each of which can be managed through the companion app.
“We believe in micro-growing and want to build since now an open system of information and hardware to meet the big change that, in a span of 5 years, will affect the micro-growing market,” Yradia says.
There is a social element to the initiative, too. Thanks to its dedicated online platform, information around cultivation can be acquired and shared with others through a constantly growing knowledge database, which is accessible by any MEG user. Since all the construction details are open-source, a worldwide community can also contribute to improve MEG’s design, providing the driving-force for acquiring knowledge and refining the necessary hardware.
MEG also records the growth and health of the plants, meaning that if a user finds a successful recipe for a particular plant, they can repeat the process. This can then be shared with its blossoming online community. Conversely, if one finds their plants on the verge of death, they can reach out to their fellow MEG users some gardening tips.
Fresh off their Wired’s Hack the Expo contest victory, the team is hoping to install five custom MEGs in five metro stations during the 2015 Universal Exposition in Milan, Italy.
In an attempt to bring this idea to fruition, the team has launched a crowdfunding campaign seeking € 20,000. If all goes to plan, Yradia hopes to have a physical, working prototype by the end of February 2015.
While this may be the first social, open-source greenhouse, it’s certainly not the first time an innovative agricultural ideas has been brought to life with Atmel powered boards. In fact, you can browse our archive on the topic here, where you will find everything from vertical farming to smiling plants.