Former Penn State students create Living Furniture prototype

June 27, 2014

GreenTowers LLC originated two years ago as a student research team at Penn State, dedicated towards finding a solution to the growing concern of how to feed 9.5 billion people in the year 2050. After winning numerous entrepreneurship and sustainability competitions, including two sponsorships from Penn State’s Sustainability Institute – Dow SISCA and the Reinvention Fund – and one from the College of Agricultural Sciences, the team initially designed and built a mobile greenhouse that uses aquaponic technology.

“During our time at Penn State, we dove head first into aquaponics system design, building the University’s first aquaponics education and research facility,” said Dustin Betz, GreenTowers co-founder.

“During our time at Penn State, we dove head first into aquaponics system design, building the University’s first aquaponics education and research facility.”

-- Dustin Betz, GreenTowers co-founder

Since then, the team has continued to innovate within the space of urban agriculture, and by using their experience in horticulture and design, began to focus on creating ways for everyone to grow their own food.

Living Furniture is the beginning of the former students’ journey to help feed the world.

Using aquaponics (a combination of fish farming [aquaculture] with soilless plant growth [hydroponics] that has been shown to increase crop yields while using 90 percent less water), the Living Table brings a natural ecosystem into one’s home. The aquarium is self-cleaning (the plants act as a natural biofilter) and in return the owner is able to effortlessly maintain a small herb garden.

Living Table Diagram
IMAGE: GreenTowers, LLC

The team is currently exploring crowd funding to expand the project. 

“We envision turning the Living Table into an entire line of Living Furniture products,” said Betz. “But we need your help to make this vision a reality.”

  • Living Table 2

    Living Furniture utilizes aquaponics, an agricultural technique first used by the Aztec empire to create floating "island gardens." This Living Table supports up to six freshwater ornamental fish, while allowing the owner to grow all types of produce. All one has to do is plant the seeds and feed the fish – the Living Table cleans and waters itself. The entire system is housed in a handcrafted table, made in central Pennsylvania from solid cherry wood.

    IMAGE: AnneLiese Nachman
  • Aquaponic greenhouse

    An aquaponic greenhouse was the first project completed by the student team in 2012. The greenhouse was constructed from a recycled standard 20-foot shipping container, making it both structurally sound and transportable as well as a post-consumer up-cycled product. It is fully aquaponic-integrated, designed to raise tilapia or perch as well as to grow microgreens, culinary herbs, leafy greens, and other vegetables.

    IMAGE: AnneLiese Nachman
  • GreenTowers Co-founders

    Dustin Betz (left) and Jared Yarnall-Schane (right) are the co-founders of GreenTowers and are former Penn State students.

    IMAGE: AnneLiese Nachman
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Last Updated July 07, 2014