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The “Impact Farm” is a 2 story DIY vertical farm that packs into a shipping container. Designed by Human Habitat’s Ronnie Markussen and Mikkel Kjær, this is a beautiful example of shipping container design that increases production while still gaining the flexibility inherent in modular design.
We can let the below pictures speak for themselves, but I’m also going to get into the super cool tie in with last week’s article on the circular economy that’s worth checking out.
Also, those of you who are up-to-date on their vertical farming news will recognize that some articles about this went up a few weeks ago, but was holding to see if I could get a conversation started for the story (like some of the interviews I’ve done with some smaller-scale vertical farmers). Unfortunately it didn’t work out, and I didn’t want to keep this project under wraps for too long. So check it out!
Here’s what the designers have to say:
The Impact Farm is intentionally designed to take advantage of under-utilized urban space for resource-efficient production of high quality and pesticide-free greens. It combines the latest and most innovative technologies and food production methods with sustainable building materials and design for disassembly.
It will be a preview of the future of food production.
The concept is to give new life to a used shipping container and use it as a tool for transportation and, subsequently, as a central part of the structure of the vertical farm. All components used in construction are stored and transported in the container. It consists of an assembly-kit of pre-made components that when they are put together becomes a two-storey vertical hydroponic farm.
When the container is “unpacked”, and the structure is in place and installed, the production area will cover 538 sq.ft. By applying simple construction methods the entire building process only takes 10 days and it is easy to disassemble and move to another location. It is designed for the purpose of temporality in order to best utilize the unused urban areas. At the same time the design method secures a high degree of flexibility and potential scalability.
The foundation of our design is C2C and the circular economy. We use materials that are either re-used or designed to circulate within the production circle. The unit is self-sufficient in clean energy and water by harvesting sun and wind, and collecting rainwater.
The focus of the last paragraph from the above excerpt is the C2C, or cradle to cradle, design approach. Agricultural systems, including hydroponic systems, have such potential to close various production loops that would otherwise result in waste (think of fertilizer runoff) that this should be almost mandatory in vertical farm design. It’s great to see these guys going for it.
Another thing I like about this is the idea that they just unpack and are ready to go. So, for example, if you come across a vacant lot in a city that would be perfect for urban food production but the owner is moving to develop in a year or two, you’re not completely out of luck.
With that sort of time frame, you cannot do any sort of regenerative agriculture as building the soil health takes time, and importing raised beds means you’re not producing for the entire year. While there are other shipping container farm options that have the same modular advantages, the cradle to cradle design approach and the second story of the Impact Farm make it a great choice.
At the same time, it must be said that this project is still new and a lot of feasibility studies need to be done. Questions like if the supplemental lighting in the picture above is actually even doing anything for the lower levels of plants need to be answered. However, this is a very cool project and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.
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