Shipping Container Farms: A Mobile Solution for Urban Farming
A shipping container farm is a great way to start farming with limited space and a low budget. A farm comprised of shipping containers can grow up to an acre worth of crops in just a 320 square foot area. Shipping containers, sometimes referred to as Conex Boxes, are also portable, which makes them easy to move into place and set up on any plot of land!
Shipping containers are increasingly being used for small farms because they can provide all the production and storage space needed for affordable prices. These types of modular structures allow you to have your very own farm on any size plot of land without using chemicals or harmful methods that affect the environment or your health. Depending on the crop you are growing, it’s possible to utilize containers for urban farming indoors or in almost any space, such as an open field or even your own backyard.
The walls of the containers can be filled in to provide warmth and insulation for plants during the colder months, or they can be left open for wind protection in warm climates. Shipping containers also make it easier to protect crops from pests and bad weather in these controlled environments, allowing them to flourish.
Urban Farming Made Easy
Container farms and greenhouse spaces are unique in the sense that in addition to being easy transport, they can also be customized to meet your needs. For example, you can have solar lights installed in your container farm that will turn on at the right time of day to give your crops the optimum amount of daylight. They can also be fitted with a sprinkler system which is set up to work off timers, allowing your produce to stay adequately watered.
Depending on how tall you want your plants or vegetables to grow, you can stack them in rows so there's enough room for more than one plant or vegetable at a time. You can even stack the containers themselves, as it'll allow for more space and usable area inside the container farm.
This is type of unconventional farming is sometimes referred to as Vertical Farming, also known as Vertical Plant Production or Vertical Hydroponics. Vertical Farming is the use of agriculture systems that are planted in a single or multi-story tower structure.
Sustainable Agriculture: Grow in Any Climate
Shipping containers are also an excellent option for people who live in areas where fresh produce is difficult to come by. By equipping the exterior of your container farm with solar panels, you can minimize long-term expenses and forego the cost of electricity, while keeping your crops fresh.
Shipping container greenhouses have been popping up in urban areas, such as New York and Los Angeles, that do not have space for a large farm. In Detroit, a mobile freight farm has become a community project that addresses issues such as poverty, food insecurity, and sustainability by utilizing renewable energy sources and green innovation.
Hydroponic Greenhouses: Grow Fresh Produce
The Mobile Farm serves as a food truck that produces vegetables on-site each week for the local community. The farm successfully operates without the use of pesticides, sunlight, or soil by utilizing LED lighting and a hydroponic system. All in all, the mobile container farm uses 90% less water than a typical outdoor garden.
Additionally, the mobile farm supplements its income stream by selling some of the produce to local restaurants. By partnering with local farmers who donate their excess produce, the mobile farm is able to provide access to fresh produce outside of growing season, while offering healthy, wholesome food to a community where it normally isn’t accessible.
Vertical Farming: A Sustainable Solution for Agriculture
The vertical farming trend has become an increasingly popular, sustainable solution to combat hunger in remote parts of the world that cannot grow crops because they lack access to electricity, fertile soil, stable land ownership, or other resources. Container farms allow people living in these areas to have fresh fruit and vegetables year-round, regardless of their environment.
Churchill, Manitoba, an Inuit town in Canada's subarctic region, does not get many fresh vegetables because of their icy living conditions. The amount of time it would take to ship produce to them often led to things beginning to spoil before they even arrived, and because of the distance, shipping produce was expensive.
Last year the Intuit town set up a vertical container greenhouse in their community in order to have access to more fresh fruit and vegetables, making them the seventh town in the region to have one of these; they call it the Arctic Growing System. The other communities that have set them up broke even on the investment within a year. This project has also helped bring new jobs to the area, hiring people to tend the container farms.
Community Support & Economic Growth
A restaurant that wants to bring in fresh herbs and vegetables regularly could set up a shipping container drive-up in the parking lot behind the building, allowing them to grow and sell their produce with ease. They could also be used on a ship, giving those on board some fresh produce without taking up too much extra space.
Container farms are an innovative way of solving this problem because they allow entire communities access to organic produce, act as a source of renewable energy, and move us one step closer to ending hunger and poverty within our own communities.
Interested in learning more about how you can leverage your own mobile freight farm? Check out our in-depth guide to buying a container that meets your needs.