5 Companies Container Farming For More Than Profit
Growing food has the unique ability to empower individuals, nurture bodies, and unify communities. The simple act of growing things provides countless advantages, such as therapeutic work, hands-on learning, employment opportunities, and a wider appreciation for fresh food.
For us at Freight Farms, these are some of the most rewarding stories. Working with nonprofits ties us back to our roots and the original purpose for building our container farming platform: to bring people food equality, job opportunities, and overall joy at growing something nutritious and tasty.
Below, we’ve highlighted just five amazing non-profits that we have had the pleasure to work with: Second Harvest Heartland, Cass Community and Ford, The Root Farm, Rally House Farms, and DreamTree Farms.
Making Fresh Food a Luxury Everyone Can Enjoy
Second Harvest Heartland
As part of Feeding America, Second Harvest Heartland has been fighting food insecurity since 2001. The traditional model was to receive donations from various retailers and manufacturers, and distribute the food to pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, meal programs, and after-school programs in the greater Minneapolis community.
However, fresh food was always hard to receive as a donation: “The cost of transportation to source leafy greens from southern states is prohibitive, and the short shelf life…[limits] the programs we are able to get these foods to while they are still fresh,” says Bob Branham, Director of Produce Strategy at Second Harvest.
In order to combat the lack of fresh food traditionally available to individuals dealing with food insecurity, Second Harvest Heartland decided to become a producer and invested in a Leafy Green Machine for their distribution center.
“Second Harvest Heartland will be the first food bank in the national Feeding America network to install a vertical farm inside of our warehouse. The farm will allow us to grow…leafy greens packed with nutrition year-round.” – Second Harvest Heartland
Cass Community and Ford Motors
In 2017, the Bill Ford Better World Challenge–half funded by the Ford Motor Company Fund and half funded by Bill Ford himself–awarded $250,000 to the Ford Mobile Farm Project in Detroit. The project will combine a Leafy Green Machine and a Ford F-150 pickup truck to bring fresh food access, and better nutritional education, to Detroit residents. The Ford Mobile Project is working closely with Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), which was founded in 2002 to fight poverty in the Detroit area, focusing on food access, health services, and housing and job opportunities. With 40% of the Detroit population currently living under the poverty line, CCSS has a big task on hand.
They will be using the Leafy Green Machine to supplement the CCSS community garden, which grows food for the community kitchen. Additionally, the produce from the LGM will be sold locally to create a revenue stream. While the LGM is growing food, the F-150, outfitted with a mini farm in the flatbed, will be making rounds at local schools to teach about healthy eating and gardening.
"The greatest feature for us is the ability to have fresh, free, organic food all year long...In terms of the school outreach component, we believe that teaching children about healthy alternatives to snacks and meals full of salt and sugar is extremely important. Our food choices are as critical as our exercise habits in terms of health." – Reverend Faith Fowler, Executive Director of CCSS
Giving Back Agency & Peace of Mind
The Root Farm
The Root Farm combines horticultural and equine therapy: the sprawling 100-acre property boasts a year-round, 17,000 square foot equine center, along with a traditional farm, chicken coop, beehive, and two Leafy Green Machines. The entire farm is designed to be all-accessible, with a focus on providing meaningful work, education, therapy, and fun for all their employees, volunteers, and visitors.
Rally House Farms
Rally House Farms is the for-profit branch for Rally House, a non-profit recovery center located in Nashville. Rally House was started to support young adults in recovery; the Leafy Green Machine was added to the property as a way of giving the guests meaningful work. Rally House’s owners believe that this initiative can help reduce the stresses of financial insecurity that often derails early recovery efforts.
Not only does Rally House Farms provide at-risk young adults with meaningful work, but performing the methodical tasks required to operate the Leafy Green Machine has several therapeutic benefits as well, such as working with one’s hands and spending time in nature, both of which help fight stress, anxiety, and depression.
Growing Funds to Achieve More Good
The DreamTree Project serves its community by supporting local youth in crisis with a short-term emergency shelter and more long-term housing. In 2017, the DreamTree Project added DreamTree Farms to its operations with the hopes of growing hydroponic produce on site and selling it into a community with a “growing appetite for local and organic food” in order to create an independent revenue stream to support the non-profits’ housing solutions.
All of these groups are doing important work beyond just farming–we encourage you to look into their mission and their scope of projects! There are lots of ways to support these non-profits, whether it be through donations, volunteering, or even just buying some of their hydroponic greens! Visit their websites to learn more.
Interested in starting your own project or adding a Leafy Green Machine to an existing initiative?