By Sarah Toy
For BU News Service
LAS VEGAS—Jack Ting is telling me his grievances. People don’t know what’s in their food anymore. Pork has “medicine” in it. Who knows what ends up inside our kids?
Ting is the CEO of OPCOMLink USA, a company that offers people a way to control what ends up on their tables. Or, as he puts it: “This is an easy way to grow your own food to feed your babies.”
It’s a simple concept: an indoor hydroponic gardening system that lets people grow their own vegetables all-year round. There’s no soil involved, so there’s no weeding. You set up one of the units, either an OPCOM GrowBox that fits up to 50 plants or a larger OPCOM GrowWall that fits up to 75 plants.
The system utilizes LED lights and is comprised of a set of wells, each of which is meant to hold an eventual plant. To start a GrowBox, you fill each well with water and add nutrients (included in the package). You check the water’s pH using a “pH meter” that comes with the system and adjust the pH appropriately, somewhere in the realm of 5.5—6.5. The GrowBox comes with “seed capsules” (or you can use your own seeds) and you stick them into a set of wet sponges. You put one seed-and-sponge into each well, and then you’re done with the hard part. The GrowBox will water itself now, using what the company calls an “ebb and flow” system. Your job is to check it once a week. The GrowBox has a monitor that will tell you if it needs extra nutrients or more water.
You can basically grow anything you need to make a really good salad: all sorts of lettuce, kale, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and basil, to name a few.
“One person has used our unit to grow marijuana, but I don’t really recommend that,” said Ting.
A GrowBox, which measures 41″ x 28″ x 23-24,” costs $499. The larger GrowWall, which measures 58″ x 12″ x 75,” retails at $599.