Holy Kale! Freight Farms is Growing Sustainable Agriculture in Upcycled Freight Containers

Freight Farms is making moves in sustainable agriculture.

Freight Farms, a Boston, Mass. agriculture start-up, was founded in 2010 by Brad McNamara, CEO, and Jon Friedman, president. The sustainable agriculture company has made a name for itself by creating the Leafy Green Machine, a “fully-operational hydroponic farm” built inside an upcycled freight container. The entire system produces high-volume yields.

McNamara and Friedman were able to build Freight Farms because of their smarts and experience – both founders started their careers as sustainable pioneers when they created a rooftop greenhouse consulting company in Boston. After the duo’s first endeavor, McNamara and Friedman chose to work on creating something that would allow urban food production to become more competitive.

The company’s product – the Leafy Green Machine (LGM) – was created to allow people in different locations to easily grow a healthy “local food economy.”

While the overall cost for the sustainable agriculture system is a bit steep (the 2015 version of Freight Farms is priced at $76,000), annual costs and upkeep typically cost $13,000 a year. Anyone who uses Freight Farms can easily grow herbs, lettuce, and various Brassica.

While Freight Farms’ currently run on a “standard single-phase 120/240 volt 60 amp connection,” the company hopes to have its system run on solar, and other types of alternative energies. Other perks of Freight Farms include: The entire system allows crops to easily be herbicide and pesticide-free. Also of note: The farm’s overall hydroponic structure allows it to use 90-percent less water than traditional methods of agriculture.

In addition to a easily-run operating system, these farms also can be run remotely through the Farmhand app. The app allows farm owners to monitor a farm’s air and water quality, and to monitor the farm through on-site cameras.

So far, the company has operating systems throughout the United States and in Canada.

In addition to all of the work Freight Farms’ founders have already done, both men are working diligently to help the company expand. Organic Authority asked the founders a few questions to find out what they have planned for the company for years to come, and how their backgrounds will enhance Farms’ future:

Organic Authority: What new technologies and products is Freight Farms working on?

McNamara and Friedman: The release of the 2015 Leafy Green Machine is a big milestone for us as a company. An incredible amount of work has gone into the design and engineering of this model in order to integrate the most effective growing technologies into a complete farming system that is easy to use and accessible to a wide variety of applications. We took a holistic approach to the new model in order to enhance every aspect of the system to maximize the growing environment and the user interaction. We have tuned the entire farm to enhance the process for the person as much as the plant. The new LGM is programmed with software that gives users of all levels the control and flexibility to operate every aspect of a farm at the highest level of performance. The new system infrastructure will enable us to release additional products in the future that will facilitate new interactions inside and outside of the farm. Everything we are developing continues to be focused on empowering people to create new experiences and opportunities through localized food production.

OA: As founders, how are you using your backgrounds to grow this company? (Founders Jon Friedman and Brad Mcnamara have backgrounds in industrial design and environmental science.)

McNamara and Friedman: We came into it wanting to solve a problem for people. Our backgrounds have influenced us to build systems, products and experiences that add benefit to every participant in the ecosystem. The design process plays a large role in everything we do and offers a lens for us to bring the complexities of a global food system into view. Our backgrounds have influenced us to build systems, products and experiences that add benefit to every participant in the ecosystem.

OA: What are expansion plans?

McNamara and Friedman: We’ve just moved into a new HQ with more space that will allow us to onboard and train a wide variety of customers to become farmers. To continue to empower those organizations, communities and individuals who want to take action to increase local food is very important to us. We’ll continue our intention that everyone should engage with the food system by providing the tools (both hardware and software) that makes it easy for anyone regardless of age, location, education, and background. Freight Farms are currently in North America but we have our eyes set on a select group of international markets this year and then we will look at larger expansion globally.

Our vision and intention is provide food security to the world and we play an active role in developing the solutions required to increase food access. The people and businesses who are using the product are making the biggest impact, we are focused on expanding in ways to support our customers, wherever local supply is needed.

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Image: Freight Farms’ Facebook page