We love hearing about and seeing what adventures our Smart Gardens and plant pods make it on once you bring them home, often times this includes defending themselves from the all might lions, cats, of your homes who like to snack on lettuce in between naps and cat food. However, more recently our Support Team was sent an image by Doug Briganti, who is in Afganhastan for work, and transported his plants in a makeshift carrier because in the middle of a desert there are no plants left behind! Read below for the full story and thank you to Doug for letting us interview him for our blog.
Photo of Doug's self-made carrier!
Hi Doug, thank you for agreeing to be featured on our blog. When our Support Team shared with us you plant carrying backpack we couldn’t wait to spotlight it! Before we get into the backstory of the plant backpack, we’d love to know a little bit about you. You’re currently in Afghanistan, how long have you been there? Is that where you saw yourself living or what brought you to Afghanistan?
I was in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013 to train US troops. I returned in January to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Army.
As a kid did you always have an inventive spirit, how do you think that has shaped your career?
Yes. I’ve always enjoyed designing and making things from available materials. I guess that’s being a tinkerer. I’ve done most of that in my spare time as I’ve worked on engines, plumbing, electrical work, light construction, gardening, landscaping, masonry, and tiling.
What made you want to build a plant carrier? What is the story behind that?
I started my Click & Grow garden on Valentine’s Day and had to pack up and move a week later. Moving the seedlings was easy then. When I had to move again seven weeks later, that posed more of a problem. I found a triangular mailing tube and cut it into three equal lengths and fitted a cardboard bottom into the tube cut from the midsection. I taped them together to make them very rigid and lined each tube with a piece of scrap plastic from a dry cleaning bag. As a finishing touch, I put a couple of damp paper towels into the bottom of each tube to keep the roots moist. (Total cost, three cents worth of tape.) The pots fit into each section, and the height protected the stems and leaves. I successfully transported them in my backpack to my new location over several days of travel. At each stop, I refilled my planter, clicked the plants back in, and plugged in the light.
Are there other inventions that you have recently built that you are proud of?
I dug a pond by hand and used the dirt to build a streambed and waterfall. I lined the pit with scraps of discarded carpet padding and special pond liner. The water circulates with a pump over the waterfall and is filtered by a bed of water plants before returning to the pond. I have native salamanders and frogs that have moved into my pond.
What is one invention that you believe that the world needs?
Edible/compostable cups and straws to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our oceans and landfills. My daughter is the inventor of Loliware which does just that!
How long have you been using the Click & Grow garden for? When did you first find out about it?
About three months. We gave my son one for Christmas 2017.
What is your favorite thing to grow?
I’ve enjoyed growing a variety of plants. My Wife once sent me a bag of potting soil. I collected plastic protein powder containers from the trash and re-purposed them as flower pots. Then, I collected seeds from peppers in the cafeteria, morning glory seeds from the ground, and wildflower seeds and grew them.
Has gardening always been a something you cared for?
Yes. I always liked to plant a garden as a youngster and worked in a nursery through high school. Everywhere that we’ve lived, I grow plants.
For us, food and food quality are an important topic, and we believe everyone should have access to as much organic, fresh, nutrient filled foods as possible. What is the one difference that you have seen with growing your food vs. store bought?
The flavors are much more intense with garden-grown food.
How do you think the food quality differs between the US and Afghanistan?
The food in Afghanistan is more local farm-to-table. There are no big grocery chains here, and processed foods are not widespread as in the US.
Favorite food in Afghanistan and the food you miss most from back home?
I like the long grain Afghan rice with raisins and a touch of cinnamon and other spices. I really enjoy good Mexican food, and there’s none of that here.
One last question, what are you inventing next?
I’m designing a tailgate for a cargo schooner that I’m going to build. The angle of the tailgate will adjust, depending on whether you are going to the dock, retrieving a boat, or conducting diving operations.