US (NJ): Hydroponic farm to become 'community hub'

Nestled at the municipal complex just yards away from the Little Red Schoolhouse—an icon of Robbinsville’s past—rests a repurposed shipping container officials say is a symbol of the township’s future.

Some cities have ventured into hydroponics, but Robbinsville is the first municipal government in the world to acquire a Leafy Green Machine. Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried said hydroponics has intrigued him for awhile, and views it as a way to solve food insecurity as farmland disappears and human population increases.

Freight Farms’ product impressed Fried so much upon first viewing it two years ago he tasked the municipal recreation department with bringing one to Robbinsville. The township government completed the purchase in 2017 for $104,000, which included delivery, shipping and set-up costs. It arrived in town Nov. 28, put into place next to the township senior center. Now, the hard work begins—turning a shipping container into a productive farm and a community hub.

Plans are in the works for other partnerships and programs, some of which would generate money for the township. The township has researched the potential for a CSA program run from the hydroponic farm, as well as coupling with nonprofits to provide low-price veggies and help feed those in need. Fried said although the container would not compete with area farms and farmers’ markets, the township still expects the farm to pay for itself in five years. It has a lifespan of 20 years.

Read more at Community News (Rob Anthes)

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