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Ilona de Jongh



Ilona is an intrepid builder, urban farmer, and educator who works with an eye towards social, environmental, and economic impact. At the early age of 21, she began her career as an industrial design engineer creating products for healthcare, including an embryo transfer pump for In Vitro Fertilization and a safety belt system for wheelchair-seated drivers. Both designs now hold patents.


After creating several healthcare products to treat illness, Ilona began to question what she could design or teach to help prevent illnesses. For the last decade, she has been using urban farming as a medium for education and early health care prevention.


As co-founder of Sprout by Design in New York City, Ilona designs & builds greenhouses, green walls, gardens, aquaponic and hydroponic systems in urban settings. She pairs those structures and systems with curricula and workshops that use nature (plants, chickens, worms, fish, ladybugs) to teach young children, individuals with special needs, and at-risk teens about design thinking, STEM subjects, and early health care prevention.


Ilona’s motto is: Design, Build, Educate, Grow! She gets her hands dirty in gardens, classrooms, vacant lots, and rooftops - educating thousands about our food sources, healthy eating, environmental stewardship, and economic opportunities in the emerging green economy.


Ilona speaks 5 languages; is a speaker for U.S. Department of State; has co-authored a book on design; was a finalist for the INDEX: Design Award; holds patents; is published; and has been featured on the news, in films, and in  Michelle Obama’s book "American Grown".


Ilona’s designs have been exhibited in museums all over the world including Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in New York, Pasadena Museum of California Art, and Axis Gallery in Japan. Her open-source “Learning Landscape”, designed for elementary education in Uganda, has been replicated over 27 times in 10 different countries, where an estimated 4100 students are playing and learning.

Contact Ilona here.

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Designer Ilona as a child playing in the mud
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