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Portland Made: Working Together ADX + Togetherfarm

Monday, April 13, 2015

 

Portland has been drawing creatives to the city for most of its history, but in the past 20 years it has certainly seen a dramatic increase, with the most accelerated activity in the past 7 years. When I first moved back to Portland in early 2008, the food cart explosion was starting, so I decided to write about it with my friend and colleague Kelly Rodgers. 

The things we wrote about in Cartopia: Portland’s Food Cart Revolution are still true and in fact, the pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial energy continues to spread like wildfire, with people quitting their day jobs and dropping out of school to start businesses in industries such as craft brewing, fashion and home goods production. 

Many of these industries have been subversively trending for decades, but Portland is gaining national and international attention for high design and high quality products, which is making Portland the darling of the Maker Movement. 

Class project turned business startup. The story of Togetherfarm told by Portland Made contributing writer Peggy Acott:

It all started with a class project.

Matt Stormont and two of his friends in the MBA program at Concordia University needed to come up with a class project. They were all avid gardeners, and two of them had children. They started brainstorming about food and families, toys and gardens – Legos entered the conversation – and they decided it would be interesting to try to take the general concept of that toy’s interlocking bricks to create a means of making easy to construct garden boxes.

As it turned out, they had so much fun with their project they decided to try to launch it into the world as a viable small business, and Togetherfarm was born.

One of the challenges was how to manufacture the blocks from a material lightweight enough that they could be easily assembled – convenient for people who didn’t have access to the materials, tools or skills to build wooden garden boxes – but also durable and sustainable so they would be long lasting and also have a positive environmental impact. 

Togetherfarm hired ADX for rapid modeling of early product innovations. Togetherfarm worked with ADX to quickly test product adjustments using 3D printing technology.

"Using 3D printing helped us get to the mold making phase much sooner, and for less money, than traditional product design routes.  Working with ADX enabled Togetherfarm to create a fantastic product in a short period of time that customers are very satisfied with."  - Matt Stormant, Togetherfarm

They came up with a food-grade plastic that was 100% recycled/recyclable, BPA-and Phthalate-free, so completely safe for growing food, and sturdy enough able to last through several growing seasons.

A single kit of twenty-four, 10”x2”x2” blocks (in a choice of color) will make a 4’ square box, 6” deep – without the need of tools – that could be used even on a balcony or patio. But the pieces can be fitted together in a number of different ways (L-shaped, zigzag, or longer rectangle, for example). There are large openings to accommodate drip irrigation, smaller openings for attaching a trellis to create additional, vertical growing space. And since the blocks are hollow, they can also be turned upside down and filled with soil for windowsill gardening or seed starting! The boxes can even be stacked or set on a table to make them usable by those in wheelchairs or who are otherwise limited in mobility. Matt believes the lightweight and flexible nature of the boxes make them ideal not only for families and those with limited space, but also for many adaptive gardening and horticultural therapy applications. He feels very gratified to have found a means for anyone who wants to, be able to grow their own healthy food.

To buy Togetherfarm click here.

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Kelley Roy is the Founder and Owner of ADX and Portland Made, and has been working for the past 5 years to grow Portland’s Maker Movement. She consults with the people from around the world to create Makerspaces, like ADX, in their communities. Kelley has become a globally recognized leader in the Maker Movement and is helping to put Portland Makers on the international map. She co-authored Cartopia: Portland’s Food Cart Revolution in 2010, has a graduate degree in Urban Planning and an undergraduate degree in Geological Sciences. Kelley’s passion is helping creatives hone their skills, start their own businesses, and make a living doing what they love.

ADX is a 14,000 square foot Makerspace where artists and designers work along side each other to prototype and launch new product lines. ADX is also open to the general public and teaches people of all ages how to make. And if you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire them to do it for you. For more information check out adxportland.com and watch this video

Portland Made is a collective of makers, artisans, manufacturers and retailers that advocate and support members by providing education and marketing, a shared resource hug and a brand that promotes their products locally and globally.  For more information see www.portlandmade.com

 

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