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DIY: Next Level, Tyler Reed

Tyler Reed's Hapi

By Travis Hoewischer

Published August 1, 2013

It took a few years of trial and error in his basement, but Tyler Reed has finally found a well-working hydroponic system to deliver him good, clean, genetically unaltered food – at a good, clean price.

But he’s not content to just keep the fruits and veggies flowing in his small studio at the Columbus Idea Foundry; through his company, HAPI (Hydroponic Automation Platform Initiative), Reed feels he has created a system that can flourish and grow just like the plants it feeds, and in the process serve as a blueprint for like-minded DIYers across the country, building a “growing library of food production knowledge.”

Reed, an enterpise engineer by day, needed to come up with an automation system for his plants, but was faced with only giant, expensive commercial systems. So, he developed his own automation system through a variety of open source hardware and software, to maintain the irrigation in his system, which consists of plants largely housed in PVC pipes, and other upcycled items like water bottles and rain gutters.

While the goal in the beginning may have been just to build a more affordable, efficient system for himself, Reed and his team are now planning to return the open source favor. They’re documenting and designing, and sometimes building, different simple structures that could be used to grow food. Like some sort of digital community garden, everything HAPI builds or codes will be available to anyone – for free.

“I wanted to build something that was extensible,” Reed said. “Something that developers and users could add onto and change, and contribute back. Every person who adapts it to their own personal situation extends the capabilities of the system itself.”

The project’s potential is immense – Reed’s initiative isn’t just a series of blueprints for lights and pumps and plants – it could be the catalyst in a much larger movement, one capable of drastically improving resources for the urban farmer.

Everyone wants to help feed the world; Tyler Reed might actually succeed in doing it. •

For more, visit www.hapihq.com.