True Story: Why This Expat Family In Singapore Doesn’t Go Grocery-Shopping

17 March 2017

Want to save money? DIY.

This expat couple basically took this idea as far as the greens that go into their food. Which is why they no longer need to go grocery-shopping. 

Not for heirloom tomatoes or the herbs they grow in their garden, at least.

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The Aerospring Garden vertical aeroponic gardening system, the brainchild of Thorben Linneberg and Nadine Keller, was born from the couple’s desire to grow delicious heirloom tomatoes on their balcony.

It had a humble starting point, with homemade prototypes that were first made out of PVC pipes. The apparatus were later on 3D-printed, when they eventually turned their urban gardening hobby into a business – and effectively did away with grocery shopping (for tomatoes, at the very least!).

What is Aerospring Garden and how does it work?

It’s an aeroponic gardening system with a 75-litre bucket base that you fill up with water, and a pump that channels the water to the top through a central pipe in the hexagonal column. The water is showered back, raining down on the roots of plants that are growing within the hollow column.

Water is constantly circulating, and you’re probably using only about 10 per cent of the water you would usually use in conventional gardening.

See also: Singapore On A Budget: 12 Genius, Non-Cliche Ways To Cut Your Water Bill


What are the benefits of having one?

You get up to 36 herbs and vegetables on your balcony, on tap! And since you harvest only what you need and let the plant live, it will regenerate new leaves and produce and you can continually harvest it for up to a year, depending on what it is.

You can grow everything you want that can survive in the Singapore temperate climate, as long as it’s not a root vegetable.

The Aerospring Garden is meant to make a difference in your food budget — while taking up only about 0.5sqm of floor area and only using around $3.50 of electricity, when left running constantly.

Not only does it save you money, it improves your health as the produce is harvested fresh and are full of nutrients, and it teaches your children where food comes from. And children so far seem to really like it — they will eat the vegetables they never ate before, because they grew it!

Also, by growing your own food using one, you are actively contributing to being more sustainable and lessening your carbon footprint.

What inspired you to create this?

The trigger was being upset about the price of good tomatoes in Singapore, so we decided to grow some.

We bought some soil and tomato seeds, but failed to grow any because the heat quickly dried out the soil in the little trays we were using as planters.

When everything died, we decided to build a system that would allow us to go away on holiday for three or four weeks and come back to thriving plants.


What happened next?

We started building prototypes out of PVC pipes, and set up a mini farm in our neighbour’s spacious patio. We realised how well it works and how much money we were saving on groceries.

When friends came over for barbeques and saw the system, they also wanted one, and it made us think about starting a business. We got a 3D printer and made many different shapes and sizes to see what works best. Later on, we got an engineering team on board to help refine the design to make it producible with a machine.


By Louisa Clare Lim, Home & Decor, February 2017

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