The farm in a box concept is an alternative tool for the commercial urban farmer. Large enclosed hydroponic containers, help utilize existing limited space to grow leafy greens and vegetables year-round.
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
Commercial Hydroponic Growing
by David Proctor
February 06, 2020
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
The commercial urban farmer has a new resource, a farm in a box so to speak. These 10’X 40’ shipping containers are equipped to grow leafy vegetables at the equivalent of an acre or two while using only 10 gallons of water a day or 90% of normal agricultural use.
The containers are humidity controlled, water irrigated, have led grow lights. Food is grown vertically, with a capacity measured in cubic feet instead of square feet.
One company PodPonics now call Agrinamics, has set up operations by the Atlanta airport. They produce lettuce that is sold locally. In contrast, of being shipped cross country from California, where almost all the lettuce comes from, that we eat.
This has proven to be very popular with the local restaurants. The chefs are able to utilize fresh local greens on their menus year-round.
Another provider of container farming is Freight Farms, they produce a container that is used primarily for vertical farming inside. To see an intro to their solutions, watch below.
Introduction To The Leafy Green Machine 4:31
Introduction To The Leafy Green Machine
Feb 8, 2017
The idea is to utilize a container, whether built for this purpose, like Modular Farms manufactures, or recycle a shipping container that is converted for this purpose.
The container is set up for environmental controls so the weather doesn’t play a key role in the production. The leafy greens that are grown are then sold to local restaurants or to local customers seeking fresh vegetables that are grown locally and year-round.
Some of these companies have produced very sophisticated containers that are monitored for CO2 levels, ph, led light spectrum tuning, and are even equipped with Wi-Fi.
The cost of a shipping container can be as low as a few thousand dollars before the retrofit process. Some are recycled refers; refrigerated semitrailers that are already insulated. Others have to be retrofitted for insulation and temperature control.
Growtainer FINAL 1 2:28
To get started, seeds are placed in a starting medium such as I have talked about with my jalapenos. After the seeds have sprouted and rooted out, these seedlings are transferred to either a small container that is placed in the hydroponics system. This is where the plant will be feed from the water mixed with fertilizer, using the irrigation system.
The plants are surrounded by led lights that give them the spectrum of light needed to grow. The LEDs are very cost-effective as far as the amount of electricity that they use. The cost of purchasing them has come down dramatically. Some units even come equipped with solar panels and battery banks for those who want to operate off the grid.
In urban areas, permits can be expensive and hard to get. These units are a little bit easier to get going since these are mobile units and do not require building permits. Some localities will embrace this technology since food production will help to create jobs.
One company, Farm From A Box, has produced a container that is “plug-and-play”, ready to start farming two acres of land. The idea is not to farm in the box but to have what you need to farm in the box, such as tools, solar panels, drip irrigation equipment, etc. This is a toolbox for the want to be farmer. It can be dropped into place about anywhere and set up to start farming operations.
Farm from a Box: Community Farming. Reinvented. 1:55
We are seeing changes to how our food is being produced and how far it travels to get to us. As land becomes more scarce and expensive, some of these ideas that utilize existing space could be turned into a great asset to a local community.
Being able to eat fresh greens year-round that are grown local is a plus for our health and community as long as the true nutritional value and phytochemical components reside in the plant. This is very hard to accomplish unless grown in the soil!
Check It Out!
Hydroponics In Shipping Container
This container uses the concept that I had back in the ’70s for growing oats in a contained hydroponic system for agricultural uses. The oats can be grown for food or fodder during the winter or during times when nature is withholding rain. This can then be fed to farm animals.
Geiling, Natasha. “Could The Future Of Urban Farming Be Found Inside Of An Old Shipping Container?” ThinkProgress. ThinkProgress, 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2020.
Markham, Derek. “It’s a 2-acre Farm, Packed into a Shipping Container That Doubles as a Farm Building.” TreeHugger. N.p., 05 May 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2020.
“Elon Musk’s Brother Is Building Vertical Farms in Shipping Containers.” Businessinsider. N.p., 23 Aug. 2016. Web.
Barth, Brian. “Meet a Baby-Boomer Couple Farming in Shipping Containers.” Modern Farmer. N.p., 09 June 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2020.