Are Shipping Container Farms The Future Of Urban Food Sustainability?


    That does it take to feed a community? Farms and produce vendors typically work together to distribute fresh food to residents. But this can be difficult in populated urban centers, and these areas are at risk of turning into food deserts.

    To increase access to healthy food, companies will need to get more innovative, taking urban farming to the next level.

    And one LA-based business is bringing a creative food growing solution to New York City.

    Business Insider reports that Local Roots has created indoor farming systems in shipping containers. The business will be launching more than 100 farms this year, and one is already in operation in the city.

    Steel shipping containers have an average lifespan of about 25 years, making them a secure and sustainable method for growing produce. This is especially true because the indoor environment can change depending on the needs of the crop.

    “In outdoor farming, whether it’s organic or traditional, there’s a lot of variability,” Local Roots CEO Eric Ellestad said in a statement to Inhabitat. “Even across a field, there’s not going to be uniform nutrient application or soil quality. In our environment we’re able to consistently create growing conditions that optimize for flavor and nutrient density.”

    Ellestad also told Inhabitat that the crops grow twice as fast as those in traditional farms. While about 45% of the average heating bill goes toward heating, these farms have a sustainable heating system to create the optimal temperature, which includes solar panels. This makes the shipping container farms able to operate in the middle of New York City winters.

    As Local Roots expands its operations, Inhabitat reports that they plan to create jobs as well. Their opening in Los Angeles will create about 150 jobs and start selling in retail locations. Local Roots also hopes to work with developing nations to increase food access and sustainability, as they partner with the World Food Program. COO Matt Vail said in a statement to Inhabitat that this will open educational opportunities in underrepresented communities.

    “We’ll educate and train the community to operate the farms, and they’ll then have ownership so they can feed their community perpetually in a really sustainable way with food that’s healthy, delicious, and local.”