First Freight Farm Up And Running In Holland
Today's farmer only needs a smartphone:
First Freight Farm up and running in Holland
He did not go to horticultural college, doesn't have a green thumb and has no clue about produce marketing. Yet Dutchman Patrick Stoffer is about to harvest 1,000 heads of lettuce every week. He is the proud owner of the first Freight Farm in the Netherlands.
Stoffer is the first European that has bought the Leafy Green Machine from Dutch greenhouse supply company Horticoop. The container farm has been developed in the U.S. by Freight Farms and comprises of a shipping container (12.2 x 2.44 x 2.6m) that has 256 ZipGrow cultivation towers for the hydroponic cultivation of leafy greens and herbs. The vertical farms allows a total of 7,000m2 of production.
Stoffer is a proud owner of the idiot-proof farm. He is using an app that keeps him up-to-date on the conditions in the container and through the app he receives tips about what kind of actions to take during cultivation.
Freight Farms has about 150 of these containers installed in the U.S. and the popularity of the system is steadily growing. Kimbal Musk, brother of Paypal and Tesla founder Elon Musk, recently bought 20 to start his own vertical farm. In his blog, he explains the importance of cultivating in urban locations and being in contact with the consumer.
Leafy Green Machine
Stoffers has no knowledge of the traditional fresh produce trade, and did not attend horticultural college. The youngster is studying Facility Management and uses his entrepreneurship with the Leafy Green Machine as part of his final thesis.
The container is installed near residential care centre Humanitas in the town of Deventer. “Part of the lettuce ends up in the salad bar at the home,” the young entrepreneur explains. “The idea is to also involve residents in the project, to show how the lettuce grows and what happens in the container. At a later time it will become a part of the community as a social project.”
Stoffer finds other buyers in local restaurants. “Salad bars and food service companies are intersting parties.” says Stoffer. He needs such companies which see the added value of this, because the cost price of the Leafy Green Machine means he cannot compete with traditional greenhouse horticulture. “We can not compete with the lettuce you find in a Dutch supermarket. However, our product has a story to tell and comes fresher and healthier.”
Horticoop offers the Leafy Green Machinefor a few months now. Interest has already been expressed from countries such as Norway, Sweden and the UK. Freight Farms expects sales will increase in the US next year and also hopes to find a good market in Europe.