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Two Young Entrepreneurs Offer Way to Grow Food in Dead of Winter

February 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch

They call their innovation the “next generation of food supply.”

As the Eastern U.S. deals with sub-freezing temperatures and lots of snow, two young entrepreneurs, Jon Friedman and Brad McNamara, who happen to live in Boston, have a solution to produce food locally even in the middle of winterFreight Farms, which Friedman and McNamara started in 2010, sells insulated shipping containers, which they’ve nicknamed Leafy Green Machines, as part of what they call “the next generation of food supply.”

The converted shipping containers are “outfitted with vertical hydroponics, high-efficiency LED lights and an automated climate control system,” according to their website. The automated system allows users to easily produce “high volume, consistent harvests.” Yesterday, Friedman and McNamara joined Jeremy Hobson of NPR’s Here & Now to discuss their startup.

Friedman, McNamara and Hobson stood outside in sub-freezing temperatures next to four Leafy Green Machines. Inside these converted shipping containers are (you guessed it!) thousands of varieties of leafy greens including lettuces, herbs and brassicas.

“We can take this all over and to places that don’t have access to food,” says McNamara.

Their idea has been met with skepticism from some, but everyone understands when you explain that “if you want lettuce in New England right now, it’s coming from really far away,” says Friedman.

Is this catching on? The two have sold 25 units so far, starting at around $76,000 per unit. “Between 50 and 100 people a month come in and say I want to get involved with this,” says McNamara. Growing food might be the world’s oldest profession, but Friedman and McNamara are bringing food production into the 21st century.

“Each farm is a wifi-enabled hotspot, so your farm … is immediately on the web and all of our farms are connected to our network,” McNamara says. “All of our farmers use our farmhand mobile app to monitor their farms 24/7. They can set alerts. They can set alarms.”

Sean and Connie Cooney are two happy Freight Farms customers. With their Leafy Green Machine, they can monitor temperature, nutrient and pH levels, and even watch live …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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