Derek Drake decided to think outside the box after losing his job during the pandemic. Or rather, think inside the box, a 320-square-foot shipping container, to be exact.

"I went down this long search, this long rabbit hole of trying to figure out my next right move, and I found this company that manufactures these farms, and I was like, 'I am going to be a farmer,'" he said.

But he's not your typical farmer. He doesn't rely on soil or sunlight. And his farm is parked in his driveway in Mokena. "This is controlled environment agriculture at its best. This is an indoor hydroponic vertical farm," Drake said.

With water and LED lights, Drake says he can grow up to 3 acres of produce in the container. Drake's company, Ditto Foods, supplies produce to restaurants, food co-ops, and other customers throughout the Chicago area. This summer, he partnered with the online farmers market, Market Wagon, to expand his reach.

Drake hopes to increase his output by purchasing a few more hydroponic shipping container farms. "This is a viable business, and it's a great opportunity to grow local, clean produce for our local community," he said.

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