The Leafy Green Machine Takes Steps Towards Urban Agriculture

The State University of New York at Stony Brook have just been given a green light to run a brand new project that aims to grow hydroponic lettuce in an up-cycled shipping container. If it’s successful, it will be a big step forward for those who are non-stop campaigning for local and sustainable grown food to be available to them on campus.

The farm was given the name the ‘Leafy Green Machine’ when it was installed back in late summer, and as the students start to head to university this month, it’s actually going to be put into use. The best thing about this ‘farm’ is that it requires zero soil. The environmental controls and LED lighting are easy to set up, and once running perfectly, the machine can grow anything up to 1,200 heads of lettuce in one week. Without the use of soil, it uses around 90% less water than a traditional farm.


How it all started

Freight Farms are the company behind this new venture. They started their business back in 2010, in a bid to make products and services that would work towards making urban farming a lot easier and more efficient.

Having started their business in university as students, they are happy that the Stony Brook project allows them to go back to their roots. They first began their company in the parking lot of their university, after convincing the higher ups to let them use it. They put a container in the space and began to build their prototype.

The high demand for locally grown food has become evident over the past few years. Around 30 different universities across the USA have signed up for the Real Food Challenge, committing to the idea of locally sourcing up to 20% of food served by 2020.

The university is happy that the students will be able to eat locally grown produce, whilst learning about agriculture.

The Future

The idea of using repurposed shipping containers is the newest way of retooling industrial waste. Companies are started to dream bigger, hoping that shipping container farms will be able to democratize urban agriculture.

It’s a profitable business that can re-envision the way that agriculture works – especially on a local scale. It’s working to adapt to an ever changing climate, something that regular farming is struggling to do.


We’re excited to follow this project through to the end – the first batch of lettuce is expected to be served in the dining rooms of the university by late October.

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