What are shipping container farms? Shipping containers go by many names including CONEX (from CON-tainer, EX-press) boxes, intermodal containers, and ISO containers. Basically, they are the large steel boxes that are loaded onto large, ocean faring container ships to ship goods around the world.
Hundreds of these approximately 20, 40 or 53 foot long containers are stacked on top of each other on top of a container ships (sometimes these ships are so big they can block a canal – looking at you Ever Given). The containers are typically taken off of a tractor trailer (a.k.a. 18-Wheeler) truck by a crane and then loaded onto the ship.
These containers are very strong and need to meet standards that are set by the International Standards Organization (ISO), which is where the ISO container name comes from.
Shipping Container Uses
Because these are large, relatively inexpensive containers they are often re-purposed after a few voyages (or sometimes they are bought brand new for other purposes, like building a home). One of the many uses is shipping container farms, also which is a subset of vertical farms which is also often called indoor farming or controlled environment agriculture (CEA).
Vertical farms do not necessarily need to be housed in a shipping container, and often they are housed in a typical commercial building, but for on-site farming in urban areas where space is at a premium, shipping containers are often used to house a vertical farm.
There are a few different companies that produce ready-to-go shipping container farms, like LettUsGrow and Freight Farms. So if you’d like to get into the vertical farming industry it is now easier than ever. There are even shipping container farms designed specifically to grow mushrooms – up to 400 pounds per week – from Farmbox.
Vertical farming is a technique to pack a lot of plants (typically leafy greens, herbs, and small fruits/veggies) into a small footprint by growing them on shelves on top of each other. Since the plants are always indoors, all of the conditions and elements (water, light, nutrients, and air) for the plants to grow can be monitored, controlled, and optimized to produce more vigorous plants that grow quickly.
This also allows plants to be grown over the winter in cold climates since the shipping container is insulated from the cold and has it’s own heat and light.
Connection to Micro Real Estate
There are many benefits to container farming, since it can be used to provide fresh food to residents and restaurants in urban setting that may be many miles from traditional farms. Where farmland is scarce (and therefore a microproperty is needed), these shipping container farm systems make a lot of sense to provide a community with fresh greens, herbs, and fruits/veggies.
You may be wondering whether you need to buy a shipping container to place on the micro property or if the shipping container would already exist on a micro property – and the answer is that it could be either.
Shipping Container Farms and Vending Machines
There’s certainly many possible combinations of micro real estate hardware on a single micro real estate property, but one of the most interesting could be vending machines combined with shipping container farms. Maybe one day you’ll be able to visit a farmer’s market consisting only of vending machines that are restocked with fresh produce daily.
Or, perhaps, the vending machine itself could robotically grow and pick produce on demand for vending. Vending machines will likely get pretty crazy in the future, I just hope there’s never a python vending machine.
Alternatively, a vending machine for meat and/or dairy could supplement the produce from a shipping container farm. Imagine, farm fresh produce grown in the parking lot of your office building. The farm could supply the building cafeteria, or food trucks that come to feed the army of office workers on their lunch breaks.