Freight Farms and Sodexo are expanding their trial partnership which has provided indoor grown salad crops at American schools. It makes a lot of sense – Freight Farms has the indoor hydroponics farming expertise (and patents) whilst Sodexo provides food and facilities management at educational establishments across the United States. Together they can deliver something nutritious, educational and local for young people at a time when both food miles and a disconnect with nature are of great concern.
Freight Farms – vertical farming inside shipping containers
Unlike other vertical farming enterprises which grow crops inside large static buildings (such as converted warehouses), Freight Farms customises shipping containers for the same purpose. These containers apparently make for excellent climate control and provide ample space for indoor growing.
As with aeroponics, plants still get their light from powerful LEDs BUT instead of their roots being ‘misted’, they are periodically flooded with a nutrient rich water solution thus making the Freight Farms approach to vertical farming a hydroponics one.
A single shipping container grows over 5,000 plants at once, sensors and pumps distribute only five gallons of water a day to keep them all growing. There’s an app called Farmhand which keeps growers informed about progress inside in real-time (which is useful because nobody wants to live in a shipping container all day).
The partnership with Sodexo will see further shipping containers delivered to schools across the US, each can be tended by staff and students, producing up to two acres of leafy greens to eat per year. They also form a valuable part of the available science programme.
Traceability, reductions in food waste, and year-round crop consistency
Sodexo’s Director of Produce Category, Kenny Lipsman, believes that their partnership with Freight Farms will allow them to “…. grow nutritious, superior-quality food on-site for our clients, just steps from the kitchens and serveries. As part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Commitments, developed in accordance with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, this technology allows for traceability, reductions in food waste, and year-round crop consistency.”
Images provided by Freight Farms