March 31st, 2010, posted by Shore Crew Tags: Build, Food, Jo Royle

The Plastiki has been rather a pioneer of sustainable techniques and systems, enabling us to create a boat that aims to inspire us all to think twice about waste and resources. One key consideration for the team was the crew’s diet, it was very important to skipper Jo Royle that the crew ate well while at sea for the 100 days, and supplying them with fresh greens was just one part of this.

Luckily we had the help of the guys at Inka who have created some fabulous systems in response to global water, food and housing challenges and have enabled us to create our own Plastiki hydroponic vertical garden. The garden is designed in a way that means that the water is cycled through the garden again and again until it evaporates, meaning it is perfect for areas with limited water supplies. It also uses a “Bio Quilt” which is a replacement for the soil used in traditional gardens, the nutrients are then distributed through the water circulation system.

Skipper Jo Royle explains that “The important message of this garden is to educate people to the fact that you can grow food without soil, without land space and with very little water. For the billions of people that are experiencing ‘hydraulic poverty’ , ‘food insecurity” depleted soils, there is a good way to produce clean safe food. The garden that Inka produced for the Plastiki is built with aluminium supports and the same plastic that the boat was built from. In third world applications, these gardens can be built from locally available materials, i.e. coconut fibres, bamboo, hemp fibres, grasses, etc.”

The top of the cylinder was designed to capture rainwater to help replenish the reservoir to minimise adding fresh drinking water to the plants. The garden was planted with 98 plants which have been providing the crew with fabulous chards, kale, spinach, bok choy, and other leafy greens all of which have been a yummy supplement to the team meals.

Some lovely people from Object Assembly helped with creating our bespoke garden, see the journey below from welding to fitting and to finally…eating! Yum! Yum!

Welding together the base

Building the Frame

Bolting in the outer frame

We have the shell ... now all we need is plants!

A few weeks later and we have some fully grown greens. Now for the Installation...

Is there a joke in this? How many men does it take to fit a hydroponic garden?

Oh, no joke needed - they did it! Ta daaa!

David turns green-fingered. The garden has become a favourite for all the crew.

4 comments  | Comments are closed



  1. Helen says:


    The sustainable garden is fantastic. Do you have to re-seed on a regular basis to keep it thriving? Regarding your meals, how did you come about planning what food to take on your journey and what did you end up bringing?

    Stay well,

  2. Ulla says:

    This article makes me really curious about the hydroponic garden. Could you take some pictures of the plants some time to give us a closer look, please ?? :-)

    As to the sadness about the Tuna: Remembers me of a saddle of lamb I ate at Easter 3 years ago. The year before I’d lived in England. On the bus ride from Whitstable to Canterbury I passed a farm almost every day. There were dozens of sheep and little lambs, and I loved seeing them for that half minute the bus needed to drive past them. I always looked for a seat upstairs so I could see them.

    After a couple of weeks there weren’t that many little lambs anymore… The following Easter I suddenly was reminded of them, when the waitress served the saddle of lamb I had ordered. I had been very hungry and was looking forward to finally getting some food into my stomach. Once I saw the meat on the plate in front of me I couldn’t help but think of those little lambs in Kent that I had loved watching so much and who always made me smile. I felt utterly sorry !

    Not eating it, would have been stupid though, so of course I ate it. And it was delicious. It might sound a little over the top, but I was grateful for every bite ! That made me enjoy it so much, that to this day I haven’t forgotten what it tasted like, what it looked like, what it smelled like, the atmosphere in the ancient and restored restaurant (—> ,only in German I’m afraid, but threre are some pics too), the jokes my friends made of me “just” because I was sorry for a couple of lambs. I also haven’t forgotten the little Kentish lambs, which is why I can understand a little that the crew have mixed emotions about their catch. But I hope they’ll have the same lovely palatal experience with the Tuna that I had 3 years ago. :-)

    It’s almost Easter. I might even consider having a saddle of lamb again………………. Maybe in that very same place with the very same friends. “Bon appetit” everyone ;-)

  3. Javier says:

    Go on guys! Incredible journey! Incredible garden! My support and thoughts on you from Ecuador!

  4. Isaiah Sullivan says:

    This is a great idea that could spread around adventure seeking boaters around the globe. Keep up the good work!