Explore creative ways to put your Leafy Green Machine to good use
Do you like the concept of becoming a Freight Farmer, but aren’t sure how to get the most out of your Leafy Green Machine? Not to worry, we have compiled a taste of just some of the great ideas our farmers are using to cultivate fresh produce, while also doing good.
Innovative Ways to get the Most out of Your LGM
1. Expand the Local Food Movement: LGMs are bringing fresh, healthy produce to areas with challenges accessing local food. With her two (soon to be four) LGMs, Kate Haverkampf at Tassinong Farms is able to overcome less than ideal growing conditions and cultivate leafy greens at 8,885 feet elevation in Crested Butte, CO. Growing in a container enables her to supply her customers with a larger variety of quality food than the produce that gets shipped into her region from hundreds, or even thousands of miles away.
2. Provide Equal Employment Opportunities: Studies have shown that the practice of farming can be therapeutic and increase the quality of life of both children and adults. Zeponic Farms in Woodbridge, VA employs the special needs community on their hydroponic farm, empowering their staff to participate in the workforce in ways that benefit both personal health and the health of their community. Vet Veggies out of Springdale, AR provides fresh produce to the region while enabling veterans throughout the US to start their own farming ventures using container farming methods.
3. Champion Corporate Social Responsibility: Companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint are using the LGM to offer great food at a low environmental cost. Google, the internet giant notorious for offering free breakfast, lunch and dinner for their more than 20,000 employees, is growing produce in an LGM on their campus in Mountain View as part of their farm-to-table initiative. Additionally, the Courtyard Marriott Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH is growing lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, and basil. Steve Duprey, the owner of the hotel, reported that during the winter months they are now able to produce basil at 1/10 of the cost of wholesale prices.
4. Extend the Growing Season: The Leafy Green Machine enables farmers to grow fresh food year-round regardless of where they live. Using hydroponics eliminates climate variability and allows farmers to keep their yields steady. Though many of our freight farmers don't have any background in farming, traditional farmers like Local Leaf in Alberta, Canada are using the LGM to extend their growing season and bring fresh produce to their customers no matter what the season.
5. Supply Students with the Freshest Produce Year-Round: According to one recent study, 87% of Americans don’t eat enough vegetables. Consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables leads to lower rates of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes among other diseases. Dining service vendors like Sodexo at Clark University and Chartwells at Worcester State University are providing students with locally grown greens all year, which brings us to our next point:
6. Promote Community Revitalization Through Farming: Localizing food production can help cut down on food miles, grow local economies, and create jobs. Focused on sustainable placemaking, Urban Pastoral uses their LGM to develop Economic Food Hubs throughout Baltimore, MD. These centers promote environmentally conscious supply chains, robust localized commerce, and targeted job creation. Their latest venture is a partnership with a local chef who recently opened up Stall 11, a vegetarian and vegan eatery in Baltimore, MD that sources all of its produce locally and is striving to remove the stigma around vegan foods.
7. Lead the Way in Controlled-Environment Agriculture Research: At the Freight Farms headquarters we are continually investigating how to make local food possible in the most extreme climates like in deep space. With the help of a NASA STTR grant, we are working alongside Clemson University to create a Self-Sustaining Crop Production Unit (SSPU) that would allow astronauts to grow crops with zero input. Not only are our farmers experimenting with varieties of plants that have never been grown in container farms before, but Kim Curren of Shaggy Bear Farms is exploring using renewable energy. Kim is the first Freight Farmer to run her farm using solar and hopes to be 100% solar powered by 2018.
8. Grow Food At Any Age: Patrick Stoffer, a graduate student in his 20's at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, is growing food in his LGM at the Humanitas nursing home in Deventer where he lives with his 90-year old roommate, Harrie. With the help of some of the other retirees, Patrick and Harrie prepare fresh, delicious food for the residents at Humanitas.
Do you have more ideas? Leave them in our comment section below!