US (MI): Container farm supplies salads, basil and edible greens to Grand Rapids

“Farmers today need to grow 70% more fruits and veggies for the world to be able to consume a nutrient-rich diet,” says Jill Frey, owner of Superbloom Farms in Grand Rapids. “That highlights the importance of alternative farming methods.”

In November 2021, she bought a shipping container that had been upcycled for vertical farming and only four months later purchased a second. She raises a mix of salad greens, basil, and edible flowers.

New Buffalo’s Artesian Farm, which also produces salad greens and basil, began in 2011 in a reclaimed industrial building. Kudla says Artesian Farm’s reclaimed industrial building accommodates seven vertical layers simultaneously. “We harvest our lettuce about 17 times per year. At the same time, a traditional farmer gets one or two harvests,” he says.

A 340-square-foot shipping container produces a yield equivalent to 2 to 4 acres of farmland, or more than 6,000 pounds of leafy greens per year.

Both farmers say the hyperlocal urban nature of the vertical farms allows for greater product freshness, and both typically deliver to grocery and restaurant clients the same day as harvest.

“Traditionally, produce is hauled from thousands of miles away and spends a week in a tractor-trailer, but ours is on the shelf in a matter of hours,” Kudla says. Frey agrees. “It will last longer in your fridge, stay fresher and you don’t have to worry about it going to waste,” she says.


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