Imagine sunning on a beach in the Bahamas and picking up your phone, pulling up an app and remotely being able to plant, water or harvest your garden.
That is the 22-year dream of Craig Borlik, a Lindon restaurant owner and Le Cordon Bleu Chef, whose entrepreneurial spirit has taken him to the world of technological organic gardening. He says the idea is helping to save the planet one garden plot at a time.
While Borlik says he has been dreaming about watching something grow over web cam, it could only have become a reality 10 years ago with the birth of phone apps.
“All the planets came into alignment about three years ago,” Borlik said. “I spent every spare dime getting a patent.”
He got the patent Nov. 26 after a 2.5 year process. He also has the right to patents in 117 countries.
“No one in the world has this intellectual property,” Borlik said.
So just what is this app about and how would it work for the average person? Borlik says the process will be easy.
Just download the app, check out the visit my garden page and select what you want in your 12 foot by 12 foot grow box garden.
Each garden has four quadrants where produce can grow and be watered at the level that is best for that vegetable. The phone screen will show you the quadrants and water needs.
The app will also give the daily weather conditions and show the owner a 360 degree view of the garden, zoom in on a tomato or zoom out to see the whole plot.
According to Borlik, there is a complete plant library, seed pricing and space requirements. If you want a specialty garden, the app will help you design it.
“There are also pre-selected gardens like a salsa garden or medicinal herb garden or a pizza garden,” Borlik said. “It’s up to you.”
Utah will be the beta test location for the plots Borlik said. They will start with 64 plots for the 2021 growing season, 950 for 2022 with those plots possibly being located in central California. By 2023, they are hoping for 1,900 boxed garden plots located throughout the country and, in the future, in foreign soils.
The Utah cost will be about $40 a month with California coming in a bit higher. That cost includes planting, maintenance, harvesting and shipping.
“There will be a discount for disabled veterans that can’t grow,” Borlik said.
Caleb Warnock, local gardening expert and author of 25 books on gardening wasn’t sure how to take a remote gardening experience.
“That’s a lot of tech to plant a garden,” Warnock said. “It may take some of the joy out of it, but if that is what it takes to get you on a gardening path, it’s a good thing.”
Warnock’s books include titles like “271 Edible Wild Plants of the United States & Canada” and “Forgotten Skills of Self-sufficiency used by the Mormon Pioneers”.
“If we can connect people to a real garden through technology that sounds like a good thing,” Warnock said.
Warnock says that eating food that comes directly from the ground to your kitchen organically is the best for good health.
Eating healthy is what Borlik’s app is all about and it is specifically for those who do not have the availability, or just ability, to garden.
The service part of this project is what has Borlik excited.
Let’s say your yield is 20 pounds of tomatoes and you only want 10 pounds. The rest goes to a virtual farmers market where you can sell and trade among the growers.
Some of the proceeds will be sent to local charities, particularly those helping children. That can be the food itself or the money from the sale of the food.
“When it is time to harvest the produce, participants will receive a “Harvest or Donate” notification,” Borlik said. “The participants will determine what will be shipped overnight to their homes with the option of contributing the surplus to charity or to a “virtual farmer’s market,” that will enable them to purchase surplus produce from others participating in the “grogrub” plan,” Borlik said.
Borlik describes the “virtual farmer’s market” as an “Amazon” for fresh, organic produce.
To take it up another notch for the eco system, Borlik said around the gardens will be honey bee hives and habitats to help with the pollinating and to grow the honey bee colonies that have suffered in the past years from pesticides and disease.
Borlik hopes his vision will not only benefit consumers by making it easier to enjoy clean, organic produce, but also small, family-owned farms who often struggle to make a profit.
“Participants will be able to purchase or lease 12 foot by 12 foot garden plots from a network of small- to medium-sized farms around the country and use the Grogrub app to remotely manage and control their personalized gardens. When the produce is harvested, it will be shipped overnight from the farm to the participants’ homes,” Borlik said.
In order to help with land purchases, and to get the garden up and growing, Borlik has opened a kickstarter where he hopes to garner as much as $1 million.
A launch party will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the State Street Eatery, 133 S. State Street, Lindon.