As marijuana continues to be legalized across the United States and Canada and “cannbiz” is rapidly growing from lotions and potions to edibles and more, the range of products, services and information available to consumers is growing at a frenetic pace. Announced in late 2015, LEAF is a contained, automated growing system for marijuana (though it grows most produce and plants equally well) that looks like a refrigerator. The company has started accepting pre-orders, with delivery starting in September 2017.
Controlled by an app on your smartphone (iOS or Android), LEAF requires very little maintenance and does most of the work for you. All you need to do is plant some seeds, change the water weekly, and replace the company-provided nutrient cartridges and air filter every few months. Though it grows most things, it was designed for home growing medical and recreational marijuana (where it’s legal), ensuring that your medicine is free of chemicals and pesticides. We spoke with founder Yoni Ofir, whose mission when creating LEAF was simple: access to quality.
Like many new products and services, LEAF was conceived out of a personal need. Ofir tells us, “I was using cannabis to treat my anxiety, but growing my own was incredibly time-consuming and frustrating. With a very busy work schedule, I simply did not have a lot of free time to carefully cultivate the plant. I came up with the idea for a unit, similar to a wine fridge, that would automate some of the most mundane tasks of growing. Once I created LEAF for my own use, others began to find out about it and request their own.” While branding was important to Ofir, the most time and energy was spent developing the appliance itself—the emphasis from the beginning has been on quality.
Essentially, Ofir wants people to be in control of the cannabis they consume—the focus is on all-natural results that are free of nasty chemicals that can undo the good that medical marijuana can offer. “We wanted to make growing as simple as possible, and accessible to many. LEAF is truly plug-n-plant, and with customizable climate control, automatic water-changes, nutrient-dosing, pH balancing and recipe creation and syncing, anyone can grow high-quality and high-potency cannabis,” Ofir says. Not only for marijuana, various herbs and vegetables can grow in LEAF, from wheatgrass to cherry tomatoes, basil, kale, spinach, peppers, mint and strawberries also thrive.
Considering much of design is problem-solving, there’s an added layer with something like LEAF—thanks to the varying laws across the country. Ofir says it’s the biggest challenge the company faces, “Although cannabis legalization has happened in many states and is coming in others, there are still many federal issues. For example, the legal cannabis industry is currently worth billions, but state law-abiding businesses do not have access to bank accounts or credit card processing, due to federal banking regulations. It was difficult for us to find a company to handle credit card processing for us, but we finally found the perfect partner and we can now take pre-orders. It’s pretty funny that the engineering, while a difficult task, is not the most difficult when it comes to the industry.”
Thanks to LEAF’s automation and growing recommendations, people don’t have to have green thumbs or have prior experience with growing marijuana. It’s a very clever creation that is meant to do good for those who desire it. Intended for people of all (adult) ages, LEAF’s success has already surprised Ofir, who says, “The target market did evolve—we learned that customers in the 55+ segment that we thought would be minimal are actually much higher than expected. No pun intended.”
LEAF is available for pre-order for $2690, with a $300 deposit. Shipping starts in September 2017.
Images courtesy of LEAF