"We're seeing an upside and very little downsides. As we are using the same manufacturing software as Tesla, the handling of all processes and planning are very smooth. Our internal tools for manufacturing come in really handy to further develop our products and such," says Gabriel Zarafonitis, Founder and CEO of FarmAnywhere.
"Being in manufacturing and design, we had seen so many systems that farmers didn't know how to fix themselves. When we build a farm, it includes products from the shelves. Software or hardware development we use from other companies. Users can integrate other systems into the farm and have access to their programs if they wish. To conclude, the farms are very DIY, allowing users to replace or repair something rather easily."
Setting new standards
With a background in cleaning software technology, Gabriel's journey into container farming began in 2016, marked by creating a densely automated prototype for FarmAnywhere. Recognizing the impracticality of automation due to the cost it brings along, Gabriel pivoted towards a more practical approach. "In my opinion, it was clear that there was a point for us to re-invent the wheel on software, controllers, and hardware. We would rather use companies that focus on their chosen discipline and then integrate them into our final plug-and-play tested container farm."
Once the pandemic hit, Gabriel set his senses on manufacturing as it allowed him to set up numerous facilities at his own pace and size. Raising seed rounds helped them to manufacture at scale and design everything in-house, controlling every part of the supply chain and building around the farmer's needs.
Aiming to double the production of 48 containers annually, Gabriel emphasizes the competitive pricing structure of FarmAnywhere's products, anticipating a reduction in overall Operating Expenses as the company's supply increases yearly. The 4in1 container emerges as a versatile solution, catering to market demands and offering standard customization within a remarkable 3-6 week timeframe.
The seed rounds helped the team to boost large-scale manufacturing, which allowed FarmAnywhere to design everything in-house, control the entire supply chain, and tailor solutions around the farmer's needs. "There's a lot of standard customization option that still allows us to produce the farm volume that we need to give the farmer a good ROI while still giving the farmers equipment that they need to succeed. When it comes to larger volume production, it would not really make sense for us to create a unique bespoke custom container at this stage."
The 4in1 container
Current industry trends
The three winning siblings of the family are microgreens-, herbs- and mushroom container farms, as Gabriel points out. Recognizing emerging trends, the company acknowledges the challenges of entering the mushroom farming market. The need for sterilization processes and optimal controlled environments comes with its hurdles. However, with a focus on rapid advancements, FarmAnywhere aims to contribute to the growth of this market. "There is no such thing as easy in farming."
In collaboration with PARUS in Korea, Gabriel and his team have ventured into strawberry cultivation. Their container farm, complete with NFT channels and spectrum lights, is designed specifically for strawberries. "We are open to working with like-minded companies that are into collaborating and keeping things compact and easy to fix."
Support at every step
"Given the warranty of having a farm in stock, it's very easy for clients to get into farming. We have farm schools as well, so when customers want to get hands-on training, they are able to get it. On top of that, we can also do the deployment of the farm, helping to finetune all processes for the customer. Especially when a grower wants to have two farms stacked on top of each other."
Heartee Foods is currently working with FarmAnywhere to deploy farms in the middle of city centers like Toronto. "We are also making strides in the Caribbean, proving that these containers are not confined to a specific geography."