It’s A Farm In A Box: What’s Growing in These Shipping Containers

October 3, 2016Posted by Linda Hernandez

Demand is growing for locally grown food, but that can be a tall order in urban areas, where it may be shipped from farms thousands of miles away.

Transporting fresh produce paired with the overall environmental impact of traditional agriculture takes its toll on our water, land, and other natural resources. 

One company has a sustainable farm-to-table solution: local produce, like lettuce and herbs, grown year-round in recycled shipping containers. 

Using these containers is a more economical approach to the rooftop greenhouse trend that’s become mainstream over the past decade and can cost up to $2 million a year to operate.


In line with both this and the growing vertical farming trend, Freight Farms came up with its Leafy Green Machine as a hydroponic growing system for all sorts of lettuces, herbs and greens. It’s essentially a “farm in a box” — growing vertical rows of plants to maximize space inside the temperature-controlled container. The 40-foot freight containers use 90% less water than traditional farming, and use LED lights to simulate sunlight. 

And, they use 90% less water to grow their crops than conventional farms do, according to co-founders Brad McNamara and Jon Friedman.

The LGM’s are also equipped with innovative technology that allows urban farmers to use an app to remotely control air and water quality, and monitor crops through live cameras. More than 100 of these machines have been sold to small businesses, hotels, restaurants, and schools in the U.S. and internationally.


“The more farmers that join this movement, the larger the impact will be on food supply,” said Caroline Katsiroubas, Freight Farms’ Community Manager. “They’re a crucial component of making cities more food independent and secure.”

But the eco-friendly company has even bigger aspirations.

“We’re working with NASA to develop a Self Sustaining Crop Production Unit for extreme climates and deep space,” said Katsiroubas.

Now there’s a mission that’s out of this world.

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