About Harvest first spoke with Jon Friedman, co-founder of Freight Farms about their unique project in December 2011. Since that time the Freight Farms Project has been successfully funded via a Kickstarter campaign and we felt it was time to check in.
Freight Farms Project Update:
AH:Where are things now with the project?
JF:Our kickstarter unit is nearly complete. Finishing touches on the exterior unit will happen in the next few weeks. We will begin our first harvest cycle with in the month.
AH:What are the main benefits to producing food in a freight container?
JF:Freight containers, also known as intermodal containers or shipping containers, offer a water-tight, weather-proof structure that is capable of withstanding the most extreme weather conditions. It is more versatile, durable and cost effective than traditional greenhouses, and, because of its uniform configuration, it is a more efficient growing solution that can fit a wider set of constraints. This is ideal for bringing crop production to places and climates that can’t naturally support year round farming. Freight Farms can be easily stacked to increase crop production on a surface without using a bigger plot of land. Units come ready to use, and do not require lengthy, expensive construction on site.
JF:Freight Farms will be available in leaf varieties. (lettuces, herbs, etc). We plan to release a vine crop unit for late 2013.
AH:From your estimates, what are the costs to start and run a Freight Farm?
JF:From the beginning we knew the first unit would need to make use of recycled materials, up-cycled parts and donated components. We are proud of what we have been able to do with the funding from our backers on Kickstarter. We are excited to debut the system output this fall and show off what it can do.
The system has been refined for a commercial application and we be releasing a high performing and high efficiency unit in Q1 of 2013 for $60,000. We will have limit of 10 units available at this time. Pre-sales for these units will begin Sept. 1st 2012
AH:What about the Start-up accelerator program you were accepted into?
JF:This summer we also joined 125 start-ups (out of over a 1000 finalists) at MassChallenge Start-up Accelerator. The connections we are making here will help us bring Freight Farms to a larger audience and will allow us to achieve our company goals in a much shorter time.
AH:It was recently announced that Freight Farms is a finalist for a tech competition, please tell me about that.
JF:Freight Farms is a finalist for the award of Consumer Product of the Year by MassTLC. A prestigious award from a notable bunch. The final decision will be made by online vote. Voting closes sept. 7th. Please cast your vote here:
It is such a huge honor to just be nominated for this award. Having Freight Farms noticed in this arena is affirmation that we can make a large social impact.
JF:We want to bring Freight Farms anywhere and everywhere fresh, local food is needed. We have a few international projects already in the works, but we plan to expand domestically in select markets and focus on local food economics.