The Dish

Want to grow tomatoes but run out of fertilizer? Your pee can do the trick.

Exchange: a quirky, innovative project that advocates for mutually beneficial interactions between humans and vegetables.

Interested in growing tomatoes without using artificial fertilizer? Gaspard Tiné-Berés has a simple solution for you: pee on them.

The unconventional “Exchange (by amical agrement)” project grew as a result of a project for Gaspard’s design class at ESAD de Reims, where he was asked to explore how vegetables can be more integrated into public spaces.

This project was inspired by a study led by Surendra Pradhan, an environmental researcher in biology at the University of Kuiopio in Finland, in which human urine proved to be an efficient fertilizer for tomatoes.

Gaspard’s project, “Exchange,” utilizes human urine to help grow tomatoes, emphasizing the interaction between vegetable and human being, each benefiting from the production of one another. He essentially designed a planter with a clay collection cup where you can pee and administer natural nutrients, which mirror that of fertilizers, that allow tomatoes to grow healthily in your backyard.

“The biggest challenge was to find a plant that would actually benefit from an interaction with humans. Humans regularly benefit from plants, but it's rarely ever a fair trade-- a truly mutually beneficial arrangement,” Gaspard tells Design with Benefits.

“Here, with the tomato plants, it works because both the plant and the human are making something out of the other’s waste or production.”

The tomatoes benefit from the fertilizing nutrients in the urine, while humans can grow healthy tomatoes by contributing a plentiful and essentially free resource. Nobody likes driving to the store to buy fertilizer. And besides, why wouldn’t you want to champion an eco-friendly lifestyle and save some cash? Double win.

Gaspard is now working with Tristan Kopp at a design studio based in north London called Re-Do Studio.

Re-Do Studio is currently designing experimental and sustainable products, such as the Re-Done bike, which allows people to build their own bicycles out of scrap ones, and flat-packed customer-assembled felt slippers made by disabled persons in social workshops.

“At Re-Do Studio, we’re dedicated to investigating alternative ways of production, with the aim of shortening the cycle between the manufacturer and the final consumer,” says Gaspard. “We think design is a great platform to mix various skills and knowledge in order to apply them to daily life.”

Exchange: Tomato Planter
Exchange: Tomato Planter
prodUSER: Make Your Own Bike
prodUSER: Make Your Own Bike