The New Age of Farming
“Grow Food Anywhere” is Freight Farms’ motto, and it turns out that they may be on to something. I attended Collision Conference last week, where I was able to speak with a number of entrepreneurs and learn about their startups. Freight Farms stood out as one of the most interesting to me. Beyond being a great concept, it was also socially and environmentally conscious.
When you look at a LGM (Leafy Green Machine) product from the outside, it looks like your average shipping container, painted green. When you venture inside the LGM, you’ll find a fully functional, hydroponic farm. You can grow a variety of crops inside this container (measured at 40’ x 8’ x 9.5’) all year long, regardless of geographic location. And, there’s a cool Farmhand app that helps you monitor and manage your growing operation from anywhere.
Freight Farms is a Boston based company that was founded in 2010 by Jon Friedman and Brad McNamara. Their mission, as it states on their website, is to “create a more sustainable and connected food system,” and to “facilitate the development of products and services that would allow urban agriculture to become a more competitive industry in food production.” According to an article on NPR, Freight Farms says it has sold about 25 of the containers so far, at a cost starting at $76,000 each.
I entered a LGM, which was parked next to the food trucks at Collision Conference, and I found a complete system of vertical hydroponics, which allows you to grow over 4500 crops in a small space, and LED lighting that mimics sunlight to stimulate plant growth. You can grow lettuces, herbs, and brassicas (which include Kale, Swiss chard, and arugula).
As Freight Farms is proving to us, urban farming is possible, whether you decide to bring your Leafy Green Machine to Denver and Boston or to San Diego and Austin. Transparency and sustainability in food production are of growing interest to consumers, many of whom are no longer comfortable with just eating what’s right in front of them. We have been doing our part by asking the right questions about how our food is made and where it comes from, but we can take it a step further and highlight new technology developed by companies like Freight Farms. These companies are finding innovative ways to bring sustainable farming to the unlikeliest of places.