A News Headline : “A farm near Yuma, Arizona has been identified as a suspected source of E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce and an outbreak that has sickened scores of people in 22 states“.
Many people, including myself, enjoy romaine as a lettuce of choice over iceberg or leaf lettuce. Romaine lettuce has been in the news for the past month and this latest news on E. coli is alarming. Consequently, just this past week, the produce shelves in many grocery stores were emptied of all bagged lettuce that contained any sort of romaine. This only reinforces the need for better, safer and more evolved ways to grow our produce. How about freight farming?
A few years ago I was reading an intriguing story on growing food inside old shipping containers. They contained all the necessary components and equipment to grow food in areas that can’t get fresh produce, like Alaska. I read that getting a fresh tomato was practically unheard of and lettuce would spoil within a day of purchase for these folks. Modular or freight farms seemed like a good alternative.
With climate change on the rise and the unpredictability of growing outdoors, these new, modern ways of growing our produce is interesting to say the least. They enable farmers to replace their typical horizontal fields into a vertical walls of green. The book, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century is a unique view brought to the surface in 2011 by professor Dickson Despommier. Vertical ‘shipping container ‘ farms are systems that are designed utilizing a controlled environment to maintain optimal growing conditions of produce. Kale, various lettuces and herbs are grown in these large storage containers. Some are experimenting with root vegetables as well.
To see an interactive, 3D model of a Modular Farms made in Canada, click here, and scroll to the middle of the page. “The best Modular Farmers are everyday people who are eager to be part of a steadily-growing industry and build community centered around food.”
Another company called ” Freight Farms” has the same idea. It manufactures high volume crop production units made from up-cycled freight containers. Click here to see an interactive, 3D experience.
Both of these two companies use 40 foot long shipping containers. Modular Farms has various sized units being developed.
The grower in either case has the ability to set the conditions based on sensors that monitor the air and water and adjust the growing environment. In addition, growers can use an App which allows everything to be controlled in real time. You may have guessed that these farms use hydroponics. Freight Farms claims to growing upwards of 9,000 plants using less than five gallons of water per day.
So, whats next? Moveable freight containers are one way to offer fresh produce to secluded areas, inner cities etc. on a year round basis. Along that line of thinking, why not turn the hundreds of old abandoned warehouse into produce manufacturing machines.
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