Freight Farmer Q&A: Clark University

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Clark University

In January 2016, Clark University and Sodexo brought the LGM to campus to provide students the freshest greens possible. Since then, their student operator has successfully been growing hyper-local produce just feet from where it's served in Clark's dining hall. 

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Nabeela Lakhani

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Nabeela Lakhani

With the end of Square Roots' first year in sight, we spoke with Resident Entrepreneur Nabeela Lakhani about her experience growing in an LGM, her plans for the future, as well as her thoughts on the food system. 

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Oasis Springs Farms

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Oasis Springs Farms

Sarah and Chris Ward got their start in urban farming in 2016 when they purchased an LGM. Although neither Sarah nor her husband Chris had experience in commercial farming, they decided to leverage their professional abilities and mutual love for local food by launching Oasis Spring Farm.

Comment

3 How-To Guides to Help You Launch Your Freight Farms Project

Comment

3 How-To Guides to Help You Launch Your Freight Farms Project

There are many factors that come into play as you begin to explore starting a freight farming project in your community. For new small business farmers, getting a business plan together, securing financing and getting local government support are three of the most important milestones. To make the process of launching your LGM a little smoother, we’ve put together some helpful how-to-guides to walk you through these three major steps to becoming a freight farmer.

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Lowell Lettuce

Comment

Freight Farmer Q&A: Lowell Lettuce

6 Questions with Zach Bain of Lowell Lettuce

One of the best parts of being part of the Freight Farms team is talking to our freight farmers and hearing about their successes, their businesses, their customers, and their challenges. They are a wealth of information, so we wanted to share some of their stories with you! 

Zach Bain of Lowell Lettuce launched his urban farm in the summer of 2016 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and is growing mini-head lettuce, kale, wasabi arugula, and salad mix year-round. Zach is an urban farmer, entrepreneur, and marketing consultant all rolled into one. We recently spoke with him about his experience as a freight farmer, his thoughts on the food system, and his advice to people thinking about becoming freight farmers. 


Freight Farms (FF): What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?

Zach Bain (ZB): As communities, we need to build the infrastructure that will support local producers and help them compete with big, conventional farms. No one got into small farming because the money was good, and it can be tough to invest in infrastructure and equipment like refrigerated trucks or to hire a person to run the logistics of a complex distribution system or any of the other systems that allow Big Ag to grow and sell huge volumes of cheap produce. In order to compete, we need to develop more support structures, locally and regionally to keep small farms competitive and financially sustainable.

I see the continued development of food hubs and cooperatives as a significant step. But to really succeed, we have to get folks from all parts of our local communities to buy in and join the local food revolution.

FF: What’s the best part of being a freight farmer?

ZB: An LGM gives a new hydroponic farmer the chance to launch their business VERY quickly. The learning curve is much shorter than if you had to start from scratch, because the FF team (and previous customers) have tested and tested the system. This lets you focus on building your market.

It’s also great because you don’t have to stress (too much) about your land situation, since, as a semi-portable, self-contained farm, if your land-lease situation changes, you can move it down the road.

After getting to know Freight Farms, I realized a container farm would be a solid step toward my farm business dream.

FF: What’s the story behind Lowell Lettuce?

ZB: I’ve always loved growing things, and I’ve always wanted to run a farm. It was a dream, though, and one I’d put off for the future. After finishing graduate school, though, with some time to contemplate “my future” I realized if I kept putting it off I’d live to regret it. After getting to know Freight Farms, I realized a container farm would be a solid step toward my farm business dream.

I was further thrilled to launch the farm in Lowell, a city that my great Grandfather launched his first business in back in the 1920s, and add hydroponic production to the city’s already exciting urban farm scene.

FF: What’s the best piece of advice you can give to people interested in becoming freight farmers?

ZB: Network, network, network. The agriculture and small farm community is amazing, and there is so much wisdom and experience being shared openly. I always smile when non-farm people ask me about my competition because I don’t think small farmers and growers look at each other like that. The market for food is as big as the population (everyone eats, right?), so there is no need to fight. We’re all trying to make a decent living feeding our communities.

Don’t be afraid of your fellow farmers, even if you don’t think you have anything to learn from in-ground, organic producers, you’re wrong. You’ll make some great friends, learn a ton, and you never know who will connect you to your next great customer.

FF: What reaction do you typically get from people when you tell them what you do for a living?

ZB: Smiles; mostly smiles. Only two percent of the U.S identifies as farmers, so it’s very likely most people don’t know any farmers, hydroponic or organic or otherwise. We’re practically unicorns, and most folks are pleasantly surprised when you tell them. Once I explain that my primary farm is a shipping container, their smiles transform as their jaws drop.

FF: What are your plans for the future?

ZB: This spring I’m launching Lowell Lettuce’s sister farm: a one-quarter acre market garden in the town over from Lowell. I’m working with New Entry Sustainable Farm Project and their incubator farm program, and I’m very excited to break ground once the snow melts.

Lowell Lettuce is also continuing to add new markets and explore new opportunities, and I’m very excited for what 2017 has in store for both of my farms.

 

Make sure to follow Zach and Lowell Lettuce on Facebook and Instagram for beautiful photos from the farm, and to stay up to date with the progress with his sister farm!

If you'd like to learn more about how Freight Farms is helping farmers grow food in regions across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean reach out to us here.


Learn More About The LGM

Comment

Candied Flower Tutorial

Comment

Candied Flower Tutorial

Spring is right around the corner, so why not pull out all the stops and transform some (locally grown) blossoms into tasty accents for confections and drinks. 

Comment