It is incredibly satisfying to nurture tiny sprouts and see them turn into lovely plants. To that end, every one of us, at one time or another, has wanted to grow our food or raise our crops on our own farm. But if you live in a city, finding arable land to farm is almost impossible. Luckily, one unique company is flipping the script and delivering solutions to turn your growing aspirations into reality.
Freight Farms is an innovative company that builds and delivers container farms that allow people to grow crops in locales where farming is not typically possible due to space or climate and in places experiencing food insecurity.
Since Freight Farms pioneered container farming in 2013, the company has built the largest IoT-connected network of commercial farms worldwide, with over 500 farms spread across 49 US states and territories and 38 countries. The company has created value-driving proprietary technologies, including its custom-built new shipping containers that are optimized to cultivate hard-to-grow plants with premium characteristics, as well as their seed-to-sale farm management software farmhand® that precisely controls and monitors the water, lighting, nutrients, temperature, and humidity in the farm.
They are currently on their 10th generation of containers, which boast tremendous hardware and robust software improvements. The new updates allow the company to gather information from built-in cameras and sensors and the collective inputs of farmers to improve yield and crop range and test different growing recipes, techniques, and plants. In addition, farmhand enables users of all levels to manage their crops using growing recipes and operate their farms remotely via mobile, tablet, or laptop.
Furthermore, every unit is supported by an outstanding customer service team that trains customers on growing with the hardware and software, and provides them with technology support and troubleshooting assistance. Ultimately, Freight Farms democratizes access to the farming industry through the comprehensive support they provide new farmers.
Their customers serve both business and nonprofit purposes, and the crop's final consumers are retailers, restaurants, colleges and universities, and individuals in the community “Whether for-profit or not-for-profit, every farmer who has purchased our farm shares our commitment to democratizing access to food and sustainability," says Rick Vanzura, CEO of Freight Farms.
Whether for-profit or not for-profit, every farmer who has purchased our farm shares our commitment to democratizing access to food and sustainability
Their flagship farm, the Greenery™ S, is a significant step toward the company’s commitment. The Greenery™ S is a commercial-scale, vertical hydroponic farm built inside an intermodal freight container. It holds a flexible main growing area, with rows that can be physically shifted to accommodate larger or smaller crops. The containers make excellent conservators, utilizing a closed-loop hydroponic system which uses water 99 percent more effectively than conventional agriculture. Part of this closed-loop is the HVAC system in the Greenery™ S, which draws moisture from the air and funnels it into the plants’ watering system. As a result, the units are 70 times more productive per square foot than traditional agriculture, as evidenced by the fact that more than two acres of crops can be grown in an eight by 40-foot shipping container annually. Freight Farms has also partnered with Arcadia to supply renewable energy to their customers in the US and is working on expanding this initiative globally.
The success of Charleston, SC-based farmer Hamilton Horne is a testament to the superior quality of the Greenery™ S from Freight Farms. Horne primarily sells his crops to clients in the restaurant community, including James Beard award winning chefs that rave about the bold flavors and unique varieties that can be grown in the container.
The company owes its innovative streak to its employees, who are motivated by a shared purpose. “I'm impressed by how aligned and driven our colleagues are. We all work towards the shared sense of mission that is to democratize access to food globally,” flaunts Rick.
Freight Farms will continue to enhance the Greenery™ S and farmhand. Their scientific advancements have led to a 40 percent increase in crop yield over the past two years. The company plans to keep its position as a global leader in vertical farming by continuing to work to increase the yield potential of their systems, expand the network of Freight Farmers, and make cutting-edge research developments.