Modern Sprout Brings Beautiful Design to Hydroponic Growing


After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the couple launched Modern Sprout to give urban dwellers with an eye towards design an approachable way to start growing in small spaces.

Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows dove into a new hobby — hydroponic growing —that quickly took over their condo in Chicago. Everywhere you looked there were plants in plastic buckets. Basil, oregano and tomatoes covered every free inch of their home.

“We just immersed ourselves in it and bought all this really hideous equipment,” Burrows said. “We were growing things like crazy, but it looked like a science experiment in our house.”

The couple’s foray into hydroponics — a self-watering and soil-free way of growing — paid off in in bushels of herbs and vegetables, but they just couldn’t get over how industrial and unattractive the equipment looked.

“We wanted something better for ourselves,” Burrows said. “What differentiates us is we’re designing a planter as décor, not just as an appliance,” Behr added.

“I think our parents grew up with green thumbs, [but] when they all moved to the suburbs it didn’t really get passed down to our generation,” Burrows said. “There’s sort of this gap and a lot of young people just don’t feel confident in their skills,or even know how to approach gardening for that matter.”


“What differentiates us is we’re designing a planter as décor, not just as this appliance.”
Nick Behr

While Behr grew up eating homegrown peas and tending to his miniature rose bushes, he and Burrows set out to make their hydroponic system easy for those who didn’t.

Unlike traditional planters that require continual maintenance to keep plants living — adding soil, nutrients and water — Modern Sprout’s planters keep growing conditions ideal through a top-feed drip hydroponic system. Feeding tubes pump water and nutrients straight to the plant’s roots from a reservoir that holds just under a gallon of water — enough to keep plants thriving for two weeks.

Now instead of running down to the grocery store for a bushel of cilantro, Behr just reaches for the windowsill. The best part? The couple’s Chicago home doesn’t look like a science experiment anymore.


Modern Sprout’s first planter, a plug-in windowsill box that comes in four finishes, lets you grow three different plants simultaneously in a modern design based off clean lines. Next up for the company is a single-pot planter that will support larger plants such as small citrus trees.


“We wanted something we could be proud of sitting on our windowsill all year round,” Behr said.