Graduates of CNM: Casey Fergus

Casey is working on a project that redefines how far we can take urban gardening
January 04, 2022

While most of us will be buying store-bought lettuce throughout the winter to put in our salads, Casey Fergus will be enjoying his fresh from his house.

That’s because Casey, who recently graduated from CNM’s Internet of Things (IoT) bootcamp, has built a high-tech hydroponics system that allows him to grow lettuce and herbs year-round from his living room. 

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil that uses recycled water, and it's been gaining traction in recent years, especially as an urban gardening solution. Casey’s hydroponics system takes what is usually a larger-scale operation and makes it fit inside someone’s house.

“My project aims to blend technology with small-scale agriculture so that you can grow your food at home,” he says.

Faced with the rising costs of living in Seattle, Casey moved to Albuquerque last fall specifically for the IoT bootcamp. He says he first discovered the IoT concept while trying to build an irrigation system for his garden that would be able to make adjustments automatically based on the weather. 

“I wasn’t really interested in building websites or apps, but the Internet of Things technologies are all about how the internet actually interacts with the physical world, so that seemed a lot more up my alley,” Casey says.

As for why Casey decided to attend CNM, he points to the uniqueness of the program.

“There’s really not a lot of programs like this, and the ones that do exist are not oriented toward people who are coming in without any computer skills,” Casey says. “Hands-on programs for beginners like this don’t exist anywhere else. This is it.”

While hydroponics systems are already known for being extremely water-efficient, Casey was able to use the knowledge he gained from the bootcamp to maximize his system’s efficiency even further by using sensors to balance the water’s PH and measure nutrient levels.

Even though the bootcamp may be over, Casey says the work on his hydroponics system is far from done.

“It takes a while to grow plants,” Casey says with a laugh. “This project is more of a starting point than a finishing point.”

In the meantime, Casey says he’s looking forward to putting roots down in Albuquerque and applying what he’s learned at local community gardens or anywhere else that might benefit from his skills.

The next IoT bootcamp starts February 14 and runs through April 23. The application deadline is January 24. Learn more here