Production Amounts


I read through the topics and didn’t see anything covering the quantity of food that the standard personal computer can produce. Where my head is at is that if I want to venture down the $800 amount or more, I need to justify it to some amount to my wife and myself. I am aware that this is a gamble to some degree, and it is also a learning experience so the price tag needs to factor in that. What I am wondering is that for the people that have gotten to the grow stage, how much vegetables can you grow? Are you able to replace all of your vegetable requirements? What about the power bills, it looks as though the LED lights and Raspberry Pi would be light, but can anyone speak to that cost? Thanks in advance.


Quite the interesting questions. Can’t wait to plant my first plants. Still getting my FC together.

So I do not think that one food computer comes even close to break even point in a short term (might be also long term) In my mind it is going to supplement our food with healthy additions all year around.

Hope someone with experience can answer your question with actual facts.

I sold it to my girlfriend in a form of a new kitchen top that the FC fits in :slight_smile: She is happy to get an additional kitchen top to use.

Nerd farming is fun. Get to play with all sorts of gadgets. To be honest this is my first project with Arduino and Raspberry pie. Its great to have a purpose to use one in a cool project. This project has sprouted lots of new ideas in my head. Like I want to create a tower similar to what the people at have created. I want to have Strawberries and Blueberries all year round :slight_smile: Also for some reason my herbs keep dyeing on me. I want to create a system that waters them for me with the right amount. This thing is proven to be the greatest DIY project ever for me :slight_smile:


I would like to dig into a project like this, as I use Raspberry Pi’s already for my media players. I am a computer tech that users Linux on a regular basis and am a bit green on the wiring and Ardunio side of things, but this is the type of project that gives me incentive to dive into it. The problem is that the $800 hurdle is too tall for me to jump over to hope the other side will be promising. If the Open Agriculture team can relay some of their findings, or a current grower that can be the carrot that pushes me, a penny pincher towards it. Until then I will watch from a distance. Best of luck!


Very very good questions. I too wondered the same. My wife has a small circulating aquaponic(gifted) and light thingy in the back room. We get a few leaves of basil a week… but our electricity bill is already a little higher… a moderately sized food computer will definitely take money from somewhere… ACK! Dare I ask… ROI?!


I originally thought the cost was $800. But then later I noticed there are 4 worksheets in the BOM Excel file and it’s actually closer to $1500. It would be more if you need to buy any of the tools/supplies listed in the 4th tab.

Or are we not talking about this BOM :


Lets be realistic, it can’t fly with such a little space/volume ratio.
For me the target to be profitable is to calculate the surface needed to feed a family of 4 with vegetable all year long.
I would say something like 8 to 10 cubic meter is needed ( sorry for the metric) . I use the FC to validate the principle of the recipe, the yield, … but for me this has to be considered as a pilot unit, where the “industrial” one, will be bigger, but share the same “brain”.


@martinvgb - I completely agree. To me an optimal setup would run along a wall within a basement room. It will come out from the wall about a meter (a meter is basically a yard which is 3 feet). It would run the length of the wall ~3-4 meters and it would go from floor to ceiling ~3 meters. Within the 3 meter height it would be 3 rows tall in a portion and 4 or 5 rows tall in another portion in order to make maximum use of plant height.

BUT, what I don’t know is whether or not it is ideal for all plants to share the same air space. Do all plants benefit from the same level of humidity, temperature and CO2 ? Probably not. And now the complications arise partitioning plants based on the humidity, temperature and CO2 needs.


@Jeremy that is a great plan. You would have 9 cubic meters of space to use.
Are you going to design it so that you can adjust the space? Making it flexible to your needs?
I have been toying with that an idea of having a larger scale food computer that allows multiple compartments with separate environment controls. It would not be the walk in model that the guys in MIT have but a one meter out of the wall and adjustable.
Would live to see your design.


Yea talking about the BOM. Youch, $1500 is even bigger to tackle, that is like a crappy used car where I live.


There is a pretty nice book mentioned earlier in a post (

There you can find some ratios , and rentability figures…Basically if you go for profit on such small device you are going to be deceived.

One interesting fact was that a PFAL ( short for Plan Factory with Artificial Lighting) can produce 3000 lettuce ( around 90 g each) /year per square meter ==> this is about 100 time the yield of a field and 15 times the yield of a general green house.

I really recommend the book ,