A Finnish micro-farm allows efficient, year-round growing in small urban spaces.
One major green trend today is urban farming – from tiny indoor farming plots to vertical gardens that can supply restaurants. Bolstered by the locavore movement, urban farming is a way to reduce food miles and gain certainty in knowing exactly where your food is coming from. Now, Finnish company Exsilio has developed a high-tech solution to allow almost any small business to “grow its own”. The company uses a renovated shipping container to create a 13-metre long farming module, known as EkoFARMER.
Inside the module, crops are organized in layers, to maximize the growing space. Most of the farming processes are fully automated, although they can also be manually controlled. Levels of water, humidity, and carbon dioxide can be easily controlled through the automated system to produce optimal yields with a minimum amount of work. In addition, unlike most similar systems, EkoFARMER does not require added nutrients, needed only is ecological cultivation soil developed by Finnish fertilizer manufacturer Kekkilä. Precisely controlling the light and humidity also allows plants to be cultivated year-round, allowing multiple yields. The EkoFARMER can produce up to 55,000 pots of lettuce per year – around three times the amount produced in a greenhouse. The final price of the modules has not yet been determined, but is likely to be slightly over USD 114,000. Exsilio has also developed a leasing model, with monthly payments likely to be around a few thousand dollars.
Explains Exsilio CEO Thomas Tapio, “Our solution is ideal for example for restaurants and institutional kitchens wanting to produce their own ingredients. The modules also serve as an excellent option for farmers to replace their traditional greenhouses with.” Exsilio also envisions EkoFARMER allowing individuals or organizations to start up their own farming micro-enterprise or by groups wanting to earn some extra income. What other uses might there by for the urban EkoFARMER?