Quoting from @SteveK8's introduction, I think this is worth it's own discussion:
By the end of WWII, 50% of households in the US grew 40% of the nations' produce in Victory Gardens in backyards, vacant lots, and on rooftops. This translates to a potential for something like 50 million Victory Gardens in the US today, and 1 billion worldwide. There's a lot of security and satisfaction in having a vegetable garden, but few among us have a patch of decent soil to work with, or the time for tilling, weeding, watering, fertilizing, etc.
What About Hydroponics?
Commercial hydroponic operations are popping up all over, but when will average people be able to use this technology?
Let's review the timeline of modern hydroponics:
- 1929 Modern Hydroponics got its start at UC Berkeley.
- 1940's Hydroponics was used on Pacific islands to help feed troops.
- 1960's Walt Disney included hydroponics in his plans for EPCOT, which is still a premier showcase of what can be done with hydroponics.
- 1970's & 80's Hydroponic hobby stores start opening, catering primarily to connoisseurs of cannabis.
- 1990's Commercial hydroponics grew rapidly, with at least one operation in the US covering hundreds of acres under glass (you in the Netherlands can stop smirking).
- 2000's Many hundreds of additional hydroponic hobby stores open in the US, but key technology is lacking for this to go mainstream.
- 2010's Technological advancements in unrelated fields, along with new inventions can now be used to create hydroponic systems suitable for average people to grow thousands of pounds of food in a typical backyard.
Tens of millions of users could adopt this advanced growing technology in the way personal computers were adopted in the 1980s.
What will it take to get hydroponics in the hands of consumers?
- It has to be extremely easy to understand and to use.
- It has to be cost effective. If it pays for itself in a season, it's cost effective.
- It has to be aesthetically pleasing.
- Our systems are simple enough for beginners and sophisticated enough for advanced users. They scale from very small personal gardens to commercial sizes.
- They can grow enough of everything normally grown in a Victory Garden to be able to more than pay for themselves in a single season.
- The systems are simple, sophisticated, elegant and durable.
In the US:
- 42 million home gardeners (#1 hobby)
- 16 million vegetarians (quality counts)
- 31 million foodies (highest quality counts)
- 4 million survivalists (independence is vital)
- 1,600+ retail stores selling hydroponics (demand is there)
- 3-5 million hydroponic hobbyists (evangelists ready for better systems)
- 2 million raw food enthusiasts (hyper-aware of nutritional content)
Other regions of the world likely have different, possibly more urgent priorities, such as hunger, drought, political turmoil, etc.
In some regions, the current need for this technology is acute. In others, we can predict it will become more acute in the not too distant future, and mega-trends indicate demand for this technology will increase exponentially around the world for the foreseeable future. This will be true for commercial and consumer systems.