BY: JESSICA BEUKER
For urbanites, it’s hard enough to know where your food is coming from, never mind have a hand in growing it yourself. This is why Williamson Greenhouses has created the CropBox – a product that combines a fully installed hydroponic greenhouse with a 320-square-foot shipping container. With CropBox, you get to be your own farmer.
The pop-up container includes stacked rows of plants, making the best use of space, which means that a full acre of lettuce, other greens and herbs can fit inside. Three different types of CropBox are offered:
1. The herbs, greens and lettuces CropBox, which can grow up to 150 different varieties and produces 12,000 pounds each year.
2. The strawberry CropBox, which can grow up to 7,000 pounds of strawberries per year
3. The microgreens and fodder CropBox, which grows either 140 tons of fodder or 84 tons of microgreens each year.
The entire system is mobile, which means it can easily be moved without disrupting anything if needed.
According to Inhabitat, the growing system provides up to 3,000 plants in each container, and because they are grown inside the container, there are fewer losses due to weather damage and pest infestation. Also, the hydroponic system uses 90 per cent less water than field-grown agriculture.
The CropBox includes a monitoring system with 20 sensors and controls that measure water, air quality and temperature. The monitoring system also allows the entire greenhouse to be controlled via smartphone.
The CropBox can be bought for just under $50,000, which is a bit steep, but if you’re looking for something more short-term, then they can also be rented for $999 a month.
The system was designed to bring small-scale farming into an industrial farm economy. Since CropBox is offered through a leasing arrangement, you don’t have to fork out your life savings for a traditional farm or complete greenhouse. It also allows beginners and small-scale farmers to grow right from their own backyard.