"We're not your typical farmers … We are the future of farming," That's the slogan of Urban Container Farm, hydroponic gardens made from recycled shipping containers. Urban Container Farm is also one of the many creators at One Spark in Downtown Jacksonville.
For about a year, its owners, Andrea Shaw, Kent Ridley and Staci Chamberlain, have been working on a unique farming system with a controlled environment that grows organic, pesticide-free vegetables. Also, unlike a traditional outdoor farm with just a couple of growing and harvesting seasons per year, Urban Container Farm's regulated climate allows for harvest every week.
One of the most interesting aspects of the farms is that they run themselves.
"Our farms can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet by an app," Shaw said. "The farms monitor themselves, letting you know what they need. They will let you know, say, if your pH levels are too low."
Although only a prototype, one Urban Container Farm has been engineered to produce up to 1,000 heads of lettuce a week. Shaw and the other creators are hoping they receive support to be able to take their vegetable growing device to the masses.
"We would one day like to see them in schools, backyards and behind restaurants," Chamberlain said. "I think it would be great to go out to eat and really have that 'from the farm to your plate' idea implemented."