The LGM costs about $85,000 and around $13,000 to operate annually. Freight Farms offers financing options, as well as video tutorials and two-day, in-person trainings at their Boston headquarters on how to operate an LGM.
“The LGM is a really good tool for existing farmers to take some of the pressure off their farm infrastructure … and their native lands,” McNamara said.
Freight Farms is among other large and small companies embracing small-scale, vertical and hydroponic farming techniques. Metropolis Farms will open a solar-powered, 660-acre, indoor farm in Philadelphia next month, growing broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, and lettuce in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse year round. And Ikea is developing a hydroponic farming system that will allow the furniture retailer to grow and harvest its own veggies in-house.
“We’ve had multiple waves of innovation within agriculture and to me this is just the next frontier that needs to be created,” McNamara said.
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The Leafy Green Machine came in very handy when Hurricane Harvey destroyed crops across dozens of counties around Houston, Texas. Employees at Acre in a Box, a Houston-based hydroponic farm that uses the LGM, couldn’t get to their farm for several days after the storm due to flooding. However, because they were monitoring their crops remotely with the Farmhand app, all the plants remained intact.
“Eventually they were able to go in and harvest, and right as the restaurants they work with started to open, they were the only ones who could provide them with produce,” McNamara said.
In light of the recent, severe hurricanes like Harvey and raging, deadly wildfires in California, McNamara believes the LGM could be invaluable after future, extreme weather events.
“It’s always been an exciting use case for us, you know, the ability to take an area that’s been decimated by these increasing, more extreme climate events and allow it to bounce back,” he said. “If you look at what’s happening in Puerto Rico, their priorities are water, electricity, and food, and the traditional farming sector might take years to come back. But what do you do in the meantime?”
He added, “Everything we’ve built since the beginning, from the hardware to the software side of the business, has been to make it easier and more efficient for people to grow food where ever they are.”
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