Several ideas to grow food inside of storage containers with the help of hydroponics and artificial lighting have been explored; however, the Farm from a Box concept develops community agriculture outside of the unit. One of the portable farms feeds up to 150 people per year and is equipped with irrigation systems, renewable energy conduits and all the tools required for cultivation. The company’s aim in developing the product is to create infrastructure in rural villages and help ease learning curves for new farmers.
Rural poverty presents a multitude of challenges to individuals due to a lack of infrastructure and poor methods of cultivation. Sustainability and education are also vital to the longevity of farmers in rural areas. These conduits for community development are capable of leaving lasting impacts in remote communities to alleviate the strife within rural areas.
Farm from a Box describes their product as an agrarian “Swiss-Army knife” that comes equipped with solar power technology, irrigation systems, water purification resources and all the tools needed to provide the infrastructure for a two-acre farm. This multidimensional tool not only provides the means for the production of localized food sources but also provides training sessions to farmers to maximize efficiency and the potential for success.
A 1993 study conducted by van Mansvelt categorized key factors for sustainability, which are “food security, employment and income generation, environmental and natural resource conservation and people’s participation and empowerment.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations highlights Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a method for security of sustainable and adaptable agrarian systems to support growth in rural areas. The company categorizes itself as a “for-profit social enterprise that is using a market-based approach” to provide tools for individuals in communities who are seeking to create income sources for themselves and maintain stable subsistence farming practices.
Founders Scott Thompson and Brandi DeCarli began their partnership through a shared passion — helping and equipping others with tools to accomplish their goals. After Thompson returned from collaborating with the United Nations Habitat Program in Kenya, and Brandi returned from working in South Africa, they went on to work together at the Kisumu Youth Empowerment Center. During their time at the Kisumu Youth Empowerment Center, they transformed shipping containers into conduits for development and sustainability in the dimensions of food production, education and youth outreach.
Thompson and DeCarli then developed the product as a means to provide resources and infrastructure for individuals living in rural poverty. Units not only provide the physical means for subsistence farming but are also equipped with geospatial mapping software that acts as a hub for Wifi.
A study conducted by Lipton and Ravallion entitled Poverty and Policy cites that growth in the agricultural sector would be expected to reduce rates of rural poverty. Devices like Farm from a Box have vast potential to improve living conditions and the possibility for growth in rural communities.
– Amber Bailey