“Like a cross between a personal trainer and a gardener, we provide Farming as a Service for everyone that doesn’t want to be a commercial farmer,” says Mathew Howe, founder and urban farmer at Grobrix.
In 2019, Mathew began his foray into growing to satiate his two children’s love of fresh pesto. Based in Singapore where 90% of food is imported, the quality of supermarket basil and pesto simply didn’t meet their standards. And so, Mathew began growing basil in soil then hydroponically. After mastering basil production, he tackled other crops. Since then, Mathew has made growing his full-time job and founded Grobrix with the mission of making indoor farming more accessible.
Mathew Howe, founder and urban farmer
Farming as a Service
After noticing that many indoor growing projects, whether residential or commercial, fall to the wayside due to a loss of interest and lack of time, Mathew conceived the idea of providing an aeroponic system alongside urban farming services. The aeroponic system forms the backbone of Grobrix and was designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and highly productive.
Grobrix’s aeroponic system is a multi-tiered, wall-mounted system equipped with warm white LED grow lights. The modular design allows users to install multiple systems side-by-side to create the effect of a grow wall without compromising productivity, and in any location.
“By doing this, we aim to take precision farming out of the shipping container or warehouse and into full view for urban communities to see and appreciate” explains Mathew.
Where Grobrix differs the most from other providers of modular growing systems is its Personal Urban Farmer Service, designed to ensure the longevity of indoor growing projects. For home-based project, Grobrix offers delivery, assembly and regular courier drops for seedlings and nutrients as well as maintenance.
For commercial locations such as hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and other businesses, Grobrix offers a full farming service including an interactive weekly visit for maintenance, restocking and crop advising.
For its seedling and nutrient offering, Grobrix partners with Grain International, an ag-biotech company specializing in creating tailored plant processes for positive economic, environmental and social change. Proprietary techniques are used to optimize crops for faster growth and improved stress resistance. This allows them to flourish under varied climatic conditions and to be more resilient to higher temperatures and humidity.
For Grobrix, Grain International are also developing and optimising plant-based nutrients to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers, and biodegradable grow plugs to minimise growers’ waste footprint.
“With this, Grobrix provides the urban farmer with nutritious, abundant and increasingly ecologically sound food on demand!” explains Mathew.
Mathew and a chef checking the greens
As Mathew explains, many people give up on indoor farming because of challenges in cleaning their growing system. Depending on if and how the product disassembles, a user may find themselves spending hours trying to clean their systems before replanting.
To remedy this, Grobrix designed its system for easy maintenance and cleaning, with “any part that touches a nutrient or plant being easy to strip out and replace. Parts can even be taken out and washed in a dishwasher,” explains Mathew. With the personal urban farmer service for commercial users, essentially none of the cleaning is done on-site. Freshly sanitized grow environments are brought in fresh when required.