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Totally controlled environment
US (MA): Hydroponic farming in a container
“Our leafy green machine is a shipping container that can grow between 4,000 and 6,000 hydroponic produce plants at one time,” says Brad McNamara with Freight Farms. Crops grown in the container include, but are not limited to lettuces, herbs, kales and brassicas. “We consider ourselves an agricultural technology company that provides hardware and software tools to grow food anywhere in the world in any spot.”
A system for everyone, anywhere
Freight Farms started in 2010 with developing a container concept for people who want to grow fresh, pesticide-free food, but are limited by availability of land. “We created a system that anybody can use, even if you are located in a city,” said McNamara. Freight Farms sold its first container in 2012 and since then, the company has sold farms throughout the US and into Canada. At the moment, Freight Farms is looking at opportunities in South America.
Fully controlled environment
The container-environment is totally controlled like a hydroponic greenhouse. Climate conditions are measured and environmental sensors balance temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. Water quality is also measured and controlled through sensors. In addition, the LED lighting system mimics sunlight. “The big difference between a container and a greenhouse is the time to start planting,” mentioned McNamara. “Planting in a freight farm starts the day the container gets delivered to the farmer whereas the process of building a greenhouse often takes a few years.”
Freight Farms offers a total package. The container comes with a training & launch package. This includes a farm camp, a two-day training on food safety and food handling. Additionally, the package teaches customers how to operate the equipment and how to use the software. The farmhand app enables customers to connect with their farm 24/7. Through the app, farmers can also order all materials that allow them to keep the farm going.
According to McNamara, produce from his customers has never been denied for quality reasons. The plants receive a high level of care and in addition, the time frame between harvest and final destination is often just a few hours. “These factors result in the look and taste of Freight Farm products being very different from traditional hydroponic produce,” added McNamara.