April 2016 marked the 60th anniversary of the first voyage of the Ideal X, the origin of modern container shipping. This expansion played a critical role in driving the global economy. The modern shipping container has improved much more than the shipping industry. It has entirely transformed supply chains, improved domestic and international economies across the globe while driving trillions of dollars in yearly trade. But that was the beginning; now, shipping containers are used for homes, agriculture, and art installations. Let's look at the benefits of container farming.
What Are Container Farms?
Breaking the boundaries of food production, container farms grow crops, not in the ground but recycled or refurbished shipping containers. Containers use vertical farming concepts and are great for leafy greens, strawberries, herbs, and flowers. But there are several options for non-plant agriculture like fish or even protein-rich insects! Containers offer a way to provide a precisely managed environment for whatever plant or animal species you're looking to grow or raise.
Benefits of Container Farming.
- Locally Grown - One of the advantages of a farm built inside a shipping container is how easily locally grown produce can reach consumers. No need for costly, long-distance transportation ensuring fresh food reaches consumers before they go bad.
- Widely Available - There are a plethora of readily available shipping containers already in existence. The owners of these shipping companies are generally willing to sell containers at reasonable rates. But buyer beware; you'll want to refurbish your container to make it a viable option.
- Controlled Environment Agriculture - CEA provides the optimal conditions necessary for crops to thrive throughout differing plant growth stages. From automated nutrition, airflow, lighting, CO2, and watering, these systems do the heavy lifting for you, all from a smartphone or tablet, allowing farmers to have much tighter control over these factors.
- Compact footprint - One of the most significant benefits of a container farm is that it doesn't require vast swaths of land or a dedicated building to get growing. Container farms can be located behind a restaurant or a campus parking lot, making it possible to bring fresh food to areas where it's impossible to grow crops, like urban settings.
While we celebrate the benefits, there are some detractors. Upfront costs can be considerable, especially with the CEA you purchase. And just buying a container won't cut it. You'll need to insulate the container, add electrical, lighting, fans, vertical shelves. It can become overwhelming. If you don't want to do all the research and installation, you can find fully retrofitted or refurbished containers ready to grow immediately. You can check out Crop Box or Vertical Crop Consultants for an estimate. Happy Growing!