Images courtesy of Freight Farms
Have you ever wished you could enjoy fresh, locally grown produce year-round, but weren’t sure where to find it? If you’re a city dweller, you could be in luck!
Thanks to small, self-contained “farms” called the Leafy Green Machine, vegetables and herbs like lettuce, kale, basil, oregano and mint can be grown all year, virtually anywhere in North America.
The Leafy Green Machine is the brainchild of Freight Farms, a company founded in 2010 by Brad McNamara (CEO) and Jon Friedman (President). As reported by CityLab.com, the idea was born from McNamara’s love for healthy produce as well as a desire to see languishing city spaces put to better use.
There’s an App for That
The Leafy Green Machine is basically an upcycled freight container turned into a hydroponic growing system. Now, an internet connection, access to potable water and electricity, along with a small investment (less than $100,000 to get started), are all you need to have your own “smart farm in a box.”
Home-Grown, Closer to Home
According to the company’s website, “By decentralizing the food supply chain and bringing production closer to consumers, Freight Farms is drastically reducing the environmental impact of traditional agriculture and empowering any individual, community or organization to sustainably grow fresh produce year-round, no matter their location, background or climate.”
And because old freight cars are upcycled to create these unique farms, some of the problems associated with other small-farming methods are alleviated.
An Alternative to Rooftop
While rooftop greenhouse projects have been successful in bringing fresh produce to many inner-city areas, the permitting and design phases of those projects are time-consuming, and the specific needs of each site make them difficult to replicate. This all combines to make commercial-scale urban greenhouses quite expensive—often anywhere from one to two million dollars.
By contrast, the Leafy Green Machine costs $82,000 ($85k for the Premium model). Operating costs are estimated at about $13,000 a year for electricity, water and various growing and packaging supplies.