In some parts of the world, food security is a real issue, and if one wants to try to solve that problem by owning a tech-enabled farm and growing the food efficiently and sustainably, then they need to have this farming tool kit: Farm From a Box.
This kit is built in a modified shipping container so that it will have an easy and hassle-free delivery to remote locations. I mentioned sustainable, didn’t I? Farm from a Box generates solar power and collects rainwater which can be connected to a well or a city supply.
Additionally, it powers a drip irrigation system that can deliver water directly to plants, helping save water and increasing yield. The organization behind this kit stated that within a year, a farm powered by this kit can grow enough food for 150 people.
Farm from a Box built that’s designed for easy delivery to remote locations, generates solar power, and collects rainwater (or connects to a well or a city supply). Then In a year, a farm powered by the kit can grow enough food for 150 people. Solving food crisis with this isn’t a bad idea, don’t you think?
“Rather than giving people short-term food aid, we can do better, by giving people the tools and infrastructure they need to do it on their own,” said Brandi DeCarli, one of the cofounders.
The journey to this point and funding
Now, Farm from a Box is a rather established organization with an evident product. Before, they had to rely on crowdfunding in order to continue their mission. They relied on Republic, an equity crowdfunding site that focuses on mission-driven companies.
“With the traditional funding models, being an accredited investor excludes a great deal of people–like 97% of the public–from being able to get involved and support different startups. When we put this system and this business together to benefit people on a broad level, it made sense that we would also sort of have it powered by the people,” said DeCarli.
Now, backers in Republic don’t get direct promised rewards. However, they can have the opportunity to make some money if the startup succeeds. Also, only a handful of companies are chosen to be featured because this platform searches for innovative companies with diverse teams and a social mission. Different from sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, isn’t it?
Kendrick Nguyen, Republic’s cofounder, said, “When it comes to early-stage investing, it’s not so much about the idea or the traction, it’s about the team–are they resilient enough, are they passionate enough? It has to be able to survive, because entrepreneurship is very difficult, and there’s going to be a lot of up and downs.”
Fortunately, Farm from a Box was chosen as one of the companies for Republic’s launch. The organization aimed for at least $250,000 and they had planned to launch two of its own first farms. One was in West Sacramento in order to give refugees from Bhutan and Nepal a chance to farm.
“Not only do these farmers get to grow the food that they’re used to eating with their own cuisine, they get to earn income with it. They have the opportunity to really develop their own community, and connect with the surrounding community within West Sacramento,” DeCarli said.
The organization had planned to launch the second farm in Virginia to give returning veterans a chance. They usually struggle to go back into civilian life and find work, that’s why this farm might let them earn an income as well as grow food.
The investment they had needed would help Farm from a Box to prepare for large-scale manufacturing, so they could begin delivery to a long list of customers who want to buy the kit.
About Farm from a Box
According to an interview with Trend Hunter, Farm from a Box was conceived after DeCarli and her business partner were in Kenya, building a youth empowerment center with modified shipping containers. They had a mission to bring resources into a community that was really lacking access to them.
At first, they set their focus around education, health, and sports. But it became clear to them that access to healthy food was something of a priority and needed to be addressed in that community.
Then, both of them decided to utilize the model of the deliverable shipping container system and outfit it to produce food on-site, directly for the community. The community could then farm without having to worry about wi-fi, grid access, and water. All of those were the beginning of Farm from a Box.
DeCarli said that her organization’s innovation takes cues from the internal hydroponic containerized food system, flipped inside-out. She and her team use shipping containers to bring in all the core components to support an off-grid outdoor farm, including solar-powered pumping, drip irrigation, filtration, internal cold storage, and wi-fi connectivity. It’s a whole data suite packaged into one system.
Basically, DeCarli came up with the idea because she and her team don’t want to provide only short-term solutions to the communities in need and they want to find out if they could approach food aid differently. But other than that, they attempt to tackle the problem of infrastructure and distribution.
“Throughout the Farm from a Box journey, we have found that our innovation applies to a lot of different communities and scenarios—from strengthening local food hubs within North America to bringing schools in more rural regions access to healthy food,” said DeCarli.
“It started from the lens of how we can approach food aid differently and it is not only about providing short-term solutions, but we are also attempting It also brings a STEM education component. When it comes to farm-from-table or corporate headquarters, we’re seeing a lot of different uses for our infrastructure,” she went on.
Challenges they face
According to the interview, DeCarli stated that one of the challenges that the organization should be aware of is that technology is often developed with a certain segment of the population in mind.
As a result, there is a big possibility of leaving a large portion of global population outside of that technological innovation, which creates a bigger gap on both the economic and production side. Other than that, the organization needs to make sure that they’re developing technologies to empower a lot of people instead of segmented communities.
Moreover, the growth of indoor production space complete with different robotics and automated systems keeps going strong. “I am concerned about the fact that many focus on these innovations and fail to pay attention to sun and soil agriculture, which remain very important to battling climate change, food nutrition, water pollution and ensuring accessibility,” said DeCarli.
She emphasized on the continuity of classic planted agriculture. Because even though agricultural technology has been developing, the good old farming can sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
“The shift to indoor production entails a lot of efficiencies and assures a controlled climate, but we need to make sure that innovation is also geared toward soil crop-based growth and supporting it after the degradation that it has been through,” DeCarli said.