Hydroponic Farm in Shipping Container Can Grow Vegetables Using 97% Less Water

Local Roots is a farming company with a difference. The L.A based startup is growing food inside shipping containers and has their eyes on how to grow food on Mars.
Jessica Miley

Local Roots is an agriculture business that doesn’t own any land. Instead, they grow all their organic vegetables inside shipping containers called TerraFarms. Each shipping container is fitted inside with a hydroponic farm that can grow the same volume of food as five acres of traditional farmland. The company is on a mission to build a network of community-based farms all over the United States in an effort to give everyone access to healthy and sustainable produce.

Local Roots dedicated to organic farming

The team control all aspects of the company from design and manufacturing every single aspect of the containers' interior to the packaging and shipping of the harvested vegetables. They believe in going back to basic farming in principles to ensure that the food they are growing is GMO-free and organic.


In opposition to most traditional farms that rely heavily on chemicals to both grow and maintain crops. The food grown inside the Local Roots shipping containers is not subject to any harmful chemicals. Each TerraFarm is a mini hydroponic farm.

Hydroponics is a common method of growing that involves using nutrient-rich water instead of soil. The roots of the plants are usually either totally exposed to the flowing water or supported in a porous material such as a loose gravel. The plants are usually simultaneously exposed to strong, sun simulating light. The TerraFarms use this same idea to grow a range of vegetables. The company supplies several large food distribution companies and also count SpaceX amongst their customers.

Transportable farms can reach 'food deserts'

What sets Local Roots apart from traditional farms or hydroponic growing center is the ability for the farm to be located exactly where its consumers are. In many places in the US, people have limited access to affordable healthy fresh food, due to the lack of local farming industry. The food they do have access to is often expensive and no fresh due to the long transportation times to reach its destination. The shipping container TerraFarms can be placed in these so-called ‘food deserts’ to close the gap between the farm and consumer. The farms aren’t just good for consumers they are also a massive win for the environment.

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Elon Musk impressed with farm idea

The Terra Farm has been designed to use 97% less water than a traditional farm for to get the same volume of food. The company is now heavily researching possible ways for the farms to be completely independent of local energy supply by adapting to solar or wind energy. The company's ability to create innovative technology caught the eye of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who has suggested the company could be contracted to supply food for its Mars Mission. Brandon Martin, vice president of business development of Local Roots, jumped at the idea, saying “We would welcome opportunities for off-planet growing. We’d love to be the first company to grow food on Mars.” Kipp Stroden, another Local Roots executive told The Guardian, “We’d like to feed at least a billion people in the next 10 years.”


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