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Urban Crops Inc.
Location: Schomberg, ON
Urban Crops has been designing and implementing agroecological food systems since it started in 2011. They have consulted with a range of local food businesses from restaurants to farmers as well as worked with partners and organizations involved in organic local food. Throughout this time they have grown their network and project experience allowing them to become leaders in technology and local food systems.
One of those developments has been the solar bucket and this is the opportunity they wish to get funding for in order to scale this product line with a global potential to support a fast and growing sector of food.
The solar bucket is a portable power unit charged by the sun that allows farmers and gardeners to execute essential tasks needed to grow more food. On their farm they use the solar bucket in water pumping applications, electric fencing, work lights, charging equipment, data collection and also basic automation applications.
- Urban Crops’ original solar bucket is a simple DIY unit that can be built, serviced and modified by gardeners for various applications
- The company has secured suppliers, local assemblers and order fulfillment services in order to scale their original solar bucket. Urban Crops have also sourced and tested a range of tools gardeners can plug into the solar bucket to accomplish tasks
- They are building solar-bucket.com in order to provide the solar bucket and the range of off-the-shelf tools for users
- The company’s latest work has been the development of a wifi-enabled solar bucket, these units are currently undergoing testing and initial user feedback
- Thus far they have received very strong positive responses from gardeners who value the automation and data collection potential of their smart solar bucket
- Funding would allow the company to take their prototype to production and develop an easier to use interface where users would just need to download an app
Gardener Built and Serviced – Urban Crops have designed the solar bucket with easily replaced components which makes it easier on their end in terms of warranty or repairs, but also empowers the user to solve their own challenges, again satisfying the user in terms of hands on learning and also understanding what they are using.
Multiple tools can plug into the solar bucket, some of which gardeners already have – The solar bucket is the portable power unit, it doesn’t do anything on its own except provide power. Various tools can be plugged into it depending on the application. For some gardeners, they might already have water pumps or electric fence energizers they can run off the solar bucket. If users don’t have tools, they can buy and expand over time based on their needs.
Works while gardeners are away from the farm – Almost half of farmers work off the farm, while gardeners certainly spend lots of time away from their garden. The solar bucket runs on its own and doesn’t need an eye or an ear near by. Its clean, quiet and safe allowing users to not need to worry.
Small Scale – There are not lot of options for small scale gardening operations. The electric fence sector has solar powered units that operate similar to the solar bucket, but that’s all they do. But when it comes to other tasks such as water pumping, lighting and charging there are no other options on the market. There is such a hole when it comes to this scale of farming that technology has little penetration on this scale.
Watts to Food – ‘Watts’, ‘amps’, ‘watt hours’, etc. – all these metrics used by the solar industry are foreign to people wanting to grow food. The solar bucket takes these standard industry measures and converts them into food growing potential, a metric growers can relate to.
Cavaleiro Farm headquarters – Urban Crops have multiple units on their farm, doing different types of farm work for different local food businesses. They have leaders in local food designing ecological systems which they can use as demonstrations. This gives them street credit with farmers and gardeners.
Antonio Gomes, Founder
Antonia received his Mechanical Engineering degree from University of Toronto and Masters of Environmental Studies from York University. He also obtained a Business and Environment Diploma from Schulich School at York University and a Permaculture Design Certificate. He started Urban Crops Inc in 2011 because he saw a growing trend of local food and thought there was a lot of opportunity for new technology. Fast forward a few years and farmers markets have multiplied, urban agriculture has grown, UN FAO releases positions to transition to agroecological food systems. Urban Crops works with various local food businesses. They’ve started and currently operate Cavaleiro Farm off which the solar bucket was born 2 years ago. Antonio believes it’s a highly practical and scalable project and will have a big impact on the industry.
Saqib Siddiqi, Co-founder of Solar Buckets
A techie and a foodie who`s trying to connect Millennials to nature and disrupt the future of food. Using his experience in engineering, manufacturing, rapid-prototyping, internet technology(IoT), and agro-ecology to help communities become food secure. Over the course of a 10-year career, Saqib has solved practical business and technological challenges for startups and fortune 500 corporations. Saqib met Antonio during their race car engineering days at the University of Toronto. As the Co-Founder of Urban Crops, he uses principles of lean manufacturing and holistic management to develop technology and tools for smarter, community-oriented agriculture which will engage Millennials. This includes automation, actionable data acquisition and digital media content for the local and organic food sector.