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Mad scientist’s homestead is parking size, off-grid system

Former Army tech Larry Johnson has spent his career improving computer and telephone systems so when he saw inefficiencies in how we grow our food, he decided to create a new system for farming your yard. His EZGro garden uses aquaponics, stacked towers, and custom pots to create a high-density vertical garden (HDVG) on as little land as a deck, rooftop or parking space. 

Johnson says the system will grow 700 plants, using 15 towers, in a space of just 2 by 18 feet. Today, he sells kits ranging from single tower patio gardens to 10-tower deck gardens to commercial-sized set-ups like those being used by a Miami football stadium for concession meals, by a Whole Foods Market in New Jersey, and by rooftop farmers in Lagos, Nigeria.

It all began in 1995 when Johnson began tinkering with his quad pot design, crafting a custom container strong enough to hold tomato plants with over 100 pounds of fruit. He then developed an irrigation system that feeds nutrient-rich water from the top of the towers, drips through the pots, and filters out through tubing below to be reused. This closed-loop system uses less than 10% of the water of a traditional garden.

To create a system robust enough for even off-grid farmers, Johnson has spent the last 2 decades developing his trihelix solar windmill. Solar panels are mounted on top of three turbines, known as the “Tri-Helix”, which are twisted like DNA strands to catch even inconsistent wind (turbines start turning in winds of just 2mph).