Shipping containers helping to change the food landscape

Shipping containers helping to change the food landscape

US-based agri-tech firm Freight Farms has established itself as the leader in the containerised agriculture industry. With its flagship product, The Leafy Green Machine™, the company was the first to integrate smart, hydroponic, vertical farming into an intermodal freight container. The company’s global customer base includes individual clients and businesses, universities, non-profit organisations, municipalities and restaurants.

Now the global innovation leader has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Ospraie Ag Science, an investment firm committed to supporting sustainable solutions that improve the quality of life for both farmers and society. The second investment round, which received participation from existing investor Spark Capital, brings the company's total funding to more than $28 million.

The latest round of funding will be used to advance the technical potential of Freight Farms' platform through continued innovation, with new services designed to benefit its growing global network of farmers and corporate partners. The investment follows the announcement of Freight Farms' strategic national partnership with Sodexo to grow food onsite at educational and corporate campuses nationwide, and will support on-going contributions to collaborative research projects and partnerships.

Founded in 2010 by CEO Brad McNamara and COO Jon Friedman, Freight Farms upholds its mission of democratising and decentralising the local production of fresh, healthy food via its unique solution. The Leafy Green Machine, with integral IoT data platform farmhand, launched a new category of indoor farming and propelled the venture into the largest network of IoT-connected farms in the world.

Freight Farm's 2019 launch of the Greenery, described as the next generation of container farming, has further raised the industry bar by advancing the limits of containerised vertical farming to put the most progressive, accessible, and scalable vertical farming technology into the hands of a diverse range of people. Greenery can produce more than 500 varieties of crops at commercial scale year-round, using 99.8% less water than traditional agriculture. Four rows of panels on a flexible moving rack system house more than 8,000 living plants at once, creating a dense canopy of fresh crops.

Jason Mraz, President of Ospraie Ag Science, said: "Freight Farms has redefined vertical farming and made decentralising the food system something that's possible and meaningful right now, not in the 'future of food. Full traceability, high nutrition without herbicides and pesticides, year-round availability – these are elements that should be inherent to food sourcing. Freight Farms' Greenery makes it possible to meet this burgeoning global demand from campuses, hospitals, municipal institutions and corporate businesses, while also enabling small business farmers to meet these needs for their customers."

"It's a big step forward for the industry when financial markets recognise and champion the value of creating a distributed food system," added Brad McNamara, Freight Farms CEO. "Aligned on mission-driven growth as a team, there is a massive opportunity before us to scale across global markets, propelling meaningful technology that's already doing good."

"With the Greenery and farmhand, we've created an infrastructure that lowers the barrier of entry into food production, an industry that's historically been difficult to get into," said Jon Friedman, Freight Farms COO. "With this platform, we're also able to harness and build upon a wider set of technologies including cloud IoT, automation, and machine learning, while enabling new developments in plant science for future generations."