US (NJ): Robinsville Townships grows with municipality-owned container farm

The hydroponic farm In Robbinsville, New Jersey, operates a little differently than most. Not only is it a farm that is inside a shipping container, but it is also a true community farm that serves local residents. Installed in 2017 at the Robbinsville Senior Center, the farm is a container farm called the Leafy Green Machine produced by Freight Farms. 

Why is it unique? It is the first Freight Farm owned and managed by a municipality (Robbinsville Township) rather than a commercial business. Farm Coordinator Hope Cahill is the only paid employee, but she gets a lot of help from a team of volunteers. Over 40 trained volunteers come in for shifts twice a week. The whole town gets involved, with volunteers who are students up to senior citizens.

The hydroponic farm mostly grows lettuces as well as some herbs like Basil and Cilantro. Lettuce varieties include Butterhead, Red and Green Romaine, Red Oak Leaf, Red and Green Lollo, and Red Veined Sorrel. They are also planning to introduce a range of new lettuce varieties soon.

The farm also has a big educational element, providing the opportunity for hands-on learning about hydroponics and healthy eating. They welcome school field trips and visits from people curious about hydroponics. Seeing the crops at each stage, progressing from tiny seedlings to full heads of lettuce, is a pretty cool experience at any age, and trained volunteers really get to engage in true hands-on learning. The idea to bring a Freight Farm to Robbinsville came from Mayor Dave Fried, and it is safe to say it has been well-received. Residents love having it in town.

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