The allure of container farming has introduced many new farmers to indoor agriculture. Their portability and low fixed costs have expanded the possibilities for grow sites for many people. Based on discussions with industry players, we estimate that there are between 250 and 300 branded container farms in the world, with likely as many “homegrown” operations in existence.
This growing practice has not only captured the imagination of the media, but it has also attracted entrepreneurs and investors. A container farm’s size, cost and ability to grow in extreme temperatures have made it a great indoor farming option. Here are their five top advantages:
There’s something romantic about an upcycled shipping container being transformed into a sustainable indoor growing operation. It takes would-be garbage from rotting in a port and turns it into a farm system that has the potential to lengthen growing seasons, reduce local food insecurity, and stabilize a farmer’s annual income stream. And, for some it works.
But not always. Eric Amyot was an early adopter of container farming who purchased one of the best retrofitted shipping containers available in 2014 and started SmartGreens, a Canadian operation that grows and delivers fresh greens direct to consumer.
Amyot and his team quickly exhausted the capabilities of the shipping container farm. “The concept and the approach itself were adequate in the sense that it was a good foundation,” he says. “What was lacking was what was needed to grow food consistently and adequately. The turnkey wasn’t as turnkey as we required.”