YouTube clips spark teen’s passion for hydroponics
IT WAS an idea that grew from watching videos on YouTube.
After eight months of researching and trialling, 17-year-old Digby Dunbar and his Mad Greens brand took out the top prize at the first hackathon to be held in the Central Highlands.
His concept involved growing microgreens and small vegetables in a controlled environment inside shipping containers and is looking to franchise it in the future.
“I was following a guy on YouTube who had a lot of videos about urban farming in cities and it really sparked my interest,” he said.
“There aren’t many fresh greens available in rural communities and this will allow people to have access to them without the food travelling hundreds of kilometres.”
Originally the Emerald teen wanted to grow produce in greenhouses and/or shadehouses, where it would go on for use in restaurants and be sold at markets.
“There was a part of the event called pivot where we sat with mentors to help move our product in a better direction,” he said.
“In the shipping containers there will be lots of shelving and technology to help monitor the humidity, temperature, light and energy consumption.”
Digby said he also wants to try using hydroponic growing methods.
“Soil isn’t necessarily needed for the first seven days and I’ve recently found some trays that can do it,” he said.
“At the moment I’m researching the best soil types and also the best system for growing hydroponically.”
Digby took crops of alfalfa, tomatoes and herbs he had trialled under his growing methods to the event.
“The alfalfa was a little under developed so I classed it as a failed trial so I can do some more research to find the best way to grow it,” he said.
“But despite that it looked really good and did quite well.”
Recently he began trialling red radishes.
“I kept them in the dark with high humidity for about five days,” he said.
“Now they’re in the sun for about three days and they should be ready to harvest by day seven or eight.”
Digby was entered into the competition by his mother.
“She just said ‘we’re going to this event and I’ve entered you in it’,” he said.
“I’d been to a lot of ag events to see what different ideas and products where there but I’d never pitched my own idea.
“Going into it I felt quite confident in the product but I was a little nervous about speaking in front of everyone there.”
The win earned the young businessman $3000 in prizes and he said he is now working towards franchising his brand
in the future.
“There were a lot of other people there who had some great ideas,” he said.
“I’m pretty excited and nervous but then again, who wouldn’t be?”
❝ At the moment I’m researching the best soil types and also the best system for growing hydroponically. — Digby Dunbar
YOUNG GUN: Digby Dunbar decided to grow microgreens after watching You Tube clips.