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Solar Powered 'Farm from a Box': Everything You Need to Run an Off-Grid Farm

Shipping containers already make great micro-homes, but one California-based company is using shipping containers to create micro-farms. Farm from a Box is a complete, small-scale farming toolkit that includes everything you might need to produce your own food.

Each box comes in 10-, 20- and 40-foot units and is pre-installed with a photovoltaic system comprising of 10 high-efficiency solar modules, off-grid inverters, a transformer and distribution box and deep-cycle batteries for energy storage. The array is backed up by a 3,000-watt generator.

Farm from a Box is a modified shipping container with a built-in WiFi, irrigation system, solar panels, weather tracking devices, batteries and more. It also contains seedlings, farming equipment and a training program to provide communities with the tools the need to feed themselves. Photo credit: Farm from a Box

It's also equipped with high-efficiency LED lighting, secured storage, a mobile charging area, Wi-Fi and a remote monitoring solution. Oh, and seeds and farming tools of course.

Each unit is capable of producing crops for one hectare of land (2.47 acres), the company says.

“Farm from a Box is the ‘Swiss-Army knife’ of sustainable farming,” Brandi DeCarli, Farm from a Box co-founder, said in September.

While Farm from a Box seems ideal for many communities worldwide, it could be a food security solution for areas without reliable access to electricity or water.

“Based on extensive field research, we found that rural communities often lack the resources and infrastructure needed to access nutritious food," DeCarli said. "We developed a toolkit that contains all of the core components needed to grow your own food, on a two acre plot of land, without the need for an existing grid. Imagine the good it can do by growing local, organic food for a school, or helping jumpstart food production after a disaster. ‘Farm from a Box’ enables and empowers communities to provide for themselves.”

Thinking outside the "box," the farm also comes with a training program that covers ecological farming practices, technology use, maintenance and basic business and entrepreneurship. A fully operational pilot project is planned for deployment at a local women’s cooperative in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia later this year to help shape and refine the training and implementation program.

A prototype installation called the "Adam" has been running at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma, California since September.

Launching of the Sonoma unit at Santa Rosa Junior College's Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. Photo credit: Farm from a Box

The boxes are fully customizable and Fast Company reports that each unit costs between $25,000-$45,000, depending on its technology specs.

Last month, Farm from a Box announced a partnership with SMA America, a noted solar product manufacturer.

“SMA is proud to partner with a company whose goal is to bring independence to communities around the globe by providing the tools they need to sustain themselves, both nutritionally and financially,” said Marko Wittich, SMA executive vice president of sales for the Americas region. “Farm from a Box isn’t charity; it empowers and strengthens communities with sustainable solutions, powered by renewable energy.”

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