Farming Outside the Box: Global Buckets

What Can You Do with Two Buckets, a Pipe and a Cup?

The Buster brothers of Boulder, Colorado can efficiently grow fruits and vegetables of any kind. The 17 year old Grant Buster and the 15 year old Max Buster decided to try and mimic the EarthBox design with what they call, “locally sourced free or low cost recycled materials.” They have since created Global Buckets, which utilizes not much more than a pair of five-gallon buckets, ten cents worth of PVC pipe and a plastic cup (video after the jump)…

After some holes are drilled in one bucket, the pieces are fitted together, and it is ready for planting. Their ‘sub-irrigation planter’ design allows the potting mix to wick water up from the bottom reservoir into the roots of the plant all while keeping the soil aerated and weed-free. This self-contained system can be put anywhere  from a rooftop to an industrial wasteland as long as there is sun. Grant and Max also added an automatic watering system made up of siphoning tubes, which keep all of the water reservoirs at equal levels and uses zero energy.

The beauty of the Global Buckets is that they do not need to be shipped across oceans to be implemented. “The resources are everywhere,” says Max, a rising sophomore at Fairview High School. The information is what must be implemented. Grant, who will be a UC Berkeley freshman next fall, said, “In a perfect world, we would travel to developing countries and teach people to build the Global Buckets ourselves, but we both have school and jobs.”

For now though, people from around the world visit their website daily for instructional videos about their designs and planting advice. And when a friend of theirs in the Peace Corps told them that many people in developing nations are hesitant to drill holes in their buckets for fear of needing the buckets again, they began developing new systems including the “Clay Pot System” and “Garbage Gardening.” The first system uses terracotta pots for the water reservoir to eliminate the need to drill holes in the bucket, and the second system replaces potting soil with cheap or free materials like newspapers to wick water up to the plants.

Possibly the best part of Grant and Max’s Global Buckets program is that they are constantly experimenting with even cheaper and more accessible designs. This allows for a constant improvement in the designs and encourages people from around the world to join in with their experiments. They enjoy the engineering-based problem solving, but the ultimate goal of activism is always in their minds.

Congratulations to the Buster brothers for coming up with new designs for growing food. Have you heard of any other growing innovations that you would like to share with the TGC network? Tell us about it! In the meantime, check out the Buster brother’s website below to learn more about what they’re up to.


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