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Belfast architect's GrowPod providing escape from daily grind

Day 2 of our Christmas week series about people who had cause to celebrate in 2020


Growing success: Conor Gallagher with one of his GrowPods

Growing success: Conor Gallagher with one of his GrowPods

Growing success: Conor Gallagher with one of his GrowPods

Conor Gallagher (30) is an architect from north Belfast who is now based in London.

During lockdown he developed his first eco-friendly consumer product, the GrowPod, to help people in smaller living spaces to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home without soil or electricity.

Today he describes how life in lockdown led him to launch the planter, made of bamboo, as part of online venture Allotme.com

He said: "I've not had time to sit still and reflect on 2020 to be honest. I think at the start of the year, I was sitting doing architecture work, working at home, and I suppose reassessing that daily grind and seeing what other opportunities could be made out of lockdown.

"Across the board there were waiting lists for allotments that went up by 400% through the first lockdown and there was much more demand for those type of practices were you have a real tangible take away at the end.

"And it's quite cathartic to watch something grow.

"For me Allotme is a nice contrast to the daily grind of watching the news and seeing about lockdown.

"The GrowPod is in one part me looking for a product that fit the bill and couldn't find it really on the market; which is an affordable way to grow vegetables and herbs using hydroponics.

"The concept of which is the roots growing in water as opposed to soil - with a nutrient solution.

"It uses 90% less water and the plants get a much better yield, so they grow quicker, bigger and more often so there are urban farms which have vertical racks."

It is much more sustainable, he explained, but the biggest issue with that is loads of artificial lighting is used, putting a question over how sustainable it actually is.

"There are other planters on the market but they're £100 plus and they use artificial lighting an"d they're made of plastic," Conor added.

"So when I was looking for something myself I just didn't find anything that fit the bill, and the GrowPod is basically a response to that; it's made from bamboo composite and it's just to be used on a sunny windowsill.

"I basically started off building DIY versions and tested growing tomato plants and aubergines and it worked to great effect, so then I started sending samples to a manufacturer.

"I had an idea of how I wanted the product to look and I was constantly tweaking it.. so in all, it's taken me nine or ten months.

"We went on sale earlier this month and had great feedback, people who have bought the GrowPod have been sending me unboxing videos via social media."

Belfast Telegraph