Using the small interiors of shipping containers, the facility in Summerville farms has moved its operations indoors. By retrofitting 320 square feet of storage, they converted available space into a highly productive aeroponic farm. Seed to harvest, they can produce nearly 4,000 heads of lettuce in just five weeks. That’s almost 13 heads of lettuce per square foot and a little more than 40,000 per year.
Farming traditionally requires land – and plenty of it. In urban areas, farming is nearly impossible where space is limited and expensive. Food often is shipped in from rural farms. But what about all the space above the ground?
Some innovative farmers like Tiger Corner Farms have taken an innovative approach to vertical farming. Recycling empty shipping containers, they’ve created mobile farms that can be functional in any environment.
They use an alternative method of growing called aeroponics. Hydroponics grows crops in a soilless environment where roots bathe in a flowing nutrient solution. In aeroponics, roots dangle in a humid, nutrient-rich atmosphere rather than liquid.
Every 10 minutes, nutrient solution is misted over the roots inside the panels. The excess solution drains to a reservoir to be recycled. An average of 10 gallons of water is used daily. This system not only reduces manual labor, it tracks every crop from seed to harvest.
The shipping container is a closed system that relies completely on LED lights mounted on all sides of the panels. The light spectrum is optimized for plant growth. LEDs generate very little heat, which reduces the need to cool the container.
Of course, this self-contained system relies on power. Any failure in the system, whether power or a component, will alert the manager via phone or other means. In the meantime, generators keep the system running.
Many innovative farming operations now see its product as a way of filling a need for local produce in an urban environment. This self-contained farm can be operational in most areas and grow a variety of leafy greens and herbs.