St. Crois' Aquaponic container farms

Instead of shipping food all around the world, imagine a farm in a shipping container: nature in a box — self-contained, solar-powered, and using a fraction of the water and space of a traditional farm. 

That is the vision of FarmPod, a St. Croix-based startup looking to improve food availability using automation and aquaponics. “Large-scale agriculture has pesticides, uses a huge amount of fossil fuels, and is really rough on the planet,” Mike Straight, creator and CEO of FarmPod, tells.

By using automation software to make their pods’ aquaponics system as easy to run as possible, Straight wants to provide a healthy, localized source of food with minimal labor and carbon footprint.

Primary drawbacks of aquaponics include startup costs, the relative complexity of an aquaponics system, and the electricity needed to ensure that the pumps are always running. To address these concerns, FarmPod has turned to essentially shipping a farm in a box. Each pod, which takes up roughly one parking spots’ worth of space, arrives with everything inside of its small shipping container base, including the sensors, tanks, and materials needed to build the greenhouse section above the fish. It is designed to be able to be built by two people in two days.

Straight estimates a FarmPod can be run on about five hours a week of labor, and the startup says it can produce over 100 pounds of fresh produce a week. Lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, kale, and collard greens can all be grown aquaponically, along with a myriad of other plants. In addition to tilapia and catfish, FarmPod can provide an aquaponic home for crayfish, barramundi, koi, perch, and freshwater prawns.

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