Miaomiao is a product design project of vertical hydroponic device which aims to enable the urban residents to grow healthful vegetables for themselves, their friends and neighbourhood. As the issues of food distribution has been a growing concern of Sharing Economy, Miaomiao aims to enable the community members to establish a reciprocal sharing network by exchanging the vegetables.
It was my graduation project for the bachelor degree in design at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Jun-You Liu and I worked as a team to execute this project.
Response to the existing problems in our food supply chain
Food security: chemical insecticide
The food security is usually threatened by the overuse of chemical insecticide all over the world. In Taiwan, it is even more severe because the agriculture is comparably more labour intensive. In 2014, the average farm size in Taiwan is around 2.5 acres, whereas the counterpart in the US is 441. Most of the farmers have a comparably lower investment ability and expectation of harvest. Furthermore, the fragmentation of farms and the lack of integration also affect the organization and efficiency of farm. As a result, the farmers primarily rely on such as breeding, fertilisers and chemical insecticide more than on high-efficient in large scale but costly agricultural machinery.
Unbalanced food production and distribution system
In Taiwan, most of the vegetables on the market are produced in countryside or imported from abroad. If planting vegetable can be never a privilege for high-social class minority, it can contribute to forming a distributed and liberal productive network. Once if a food crisis happens, the network can balance the shortage and price fluctuation of food.
Prototyping and testing
We presented our prototypes on several exhibitions which were organised by local associations for promoting civic agriculture to communities. We also interviewed dozens of residents and community leaders living in Taipei. We utilised methods such Judgmental Sampling and Snowball Sampling so as to ensure that we did capture the authentic needs and desires of the urban residents.
In short, we find that
- Their living space is too narrow to grow vegetables.
- Their income is not enough for them to afford expensive gardening expenditure.
- Their living paces are so busy that they have no sufficient time to take care of vegetable. By utilising 3D-printing technology, we reduced our cost and time waste of making mockups, therefore, we can conduct several times of usability and technical test for this time-limited project.
Flexible vegetables planting extensibilty
Miaomiao can be connected by their ends like a LEGO set. With this feature, the users can decide to support it with a stand or hang it up according to the changes of home environment and amount of vegetables they want to plant.
Miaomiao is a non-electrical device, you don’t need to worry about the quantity of electric charge. Also, the vegetables of Miaomiao absorb the nutrition from the liquid fertiliser, it does not need to apply fertiliser and kill injurious insect pest, only a place with sufficient sunshine is needed. As a result, the vegetables can grow healthily.
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How to use?
Miaomiao adapts organic hydroponic technology, which offers an easier and more efficient way to take care of vegetables.
The documentary of Miaomiao after a 5-week growing