With increasingly unpredictable weather patterns impacting crops and a continuing global supply chain crisis affecting millions, a Douglas County company is using tech-based indoor farming to make sure no one goes without a reliable, secure source of nutrient-rich food.
FarmBox Foods, based in Sedalia, has spent the last four years developing automated farms in shipping containers to grow gourmet mushrooms, organic leafy greens, culinary herbs, peppers, small tomatoes and fodder for livestock. The mission-driven company is focused on helping feed those living in food deserts while empowering local communities and providing jobs and educational opportunities.
The upcycled shipping containers that house these systems can be placed virtually anywhere in the world — from island nations and urban areas to college campuses and the far reaches of Alaska — and produce food year-round. The Gourmet Mushroom Farms alone produce an average of 400 pounds of mushrooms per week. The hydroponic fodder system yields more than 1,000 pounds of the protein-rich dietary supplement each day.
FarmBox Foods’ patented vertical hydroponic watering systems use 99% less water than traditional farms, and the fully controlled enclosed growing environment is protected from pests and pathogens. This reduces and can entirely eliminate the need for pesticides, allowing people to harvest and eat untainted, farm-fresh produce. Setting up the 320-square-foot containers in or near populated areas also reduces food waste, as the food is able to get to the table more quickly and can better retain its nutritional value.
“The real mission in this whole thing is to be able to feed the world in places that ordinarily wouldn't be able to grow food,” said Rusty Walker, CEO of FarmBox Foods.
FarmBox Foods’ short-term goals include partnering with institutions that help provide the biggest possible impact for the most people, including food banks, schools, hospital groups and prisons.