The hot pink lights of these repurposed shipping containers, sitting up in the clouds of a thriving metropolis, look like something from a sci-fi movie plot set in an 80s disco. But what you’re looking at is a vertical farm in Brooklyn, New York. Each climate-controlled 40-foot shipping container has been fitted out with hydroponics and lighting, so that lettuce, greens and herbs can be grown under perfect conditions all year round.
The mind behind Square Roots is global social entrepreneur Kimbal Musk, who has a passion for connecting communities, and especially young people, to real food. Each container grows the equivalent of two acres of traditional farmland over the course of a year – and on the Brooklyn site, there are 10 containers all up. Young entrepreneurs are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance, harvesting, packing, selling and delivery of the produce to local customers and restaurants.
First year farmer Erik told Smith Journal he can grow between 18 and 22 kilograms of leafy greens each week – much more than on a traditional farm. Even as snow falls in the middle of a New York winter, he can set the container to the perfect temperature and conditions for his plants to thrive.
SquareRoots CEO Tobias Peggs says the program works because people want locally produced food, and appreciate having a real connection to the people who grow it. We think that Elaine from Seinfeld would have also appreciated eating a Big Salad crammed full of so much locally-grown green goodness.