Boston Company Customizing Steel Shipping Containers for Indoor Farming

The three primary metals most often purchased by consumers include aluminum in bar, tube, sheet, or plate form; hot or cold rolled steel; and stainless steel. Many people have come up with innovative ways to use steel shipping containers in the past decade, but one farming company’s idea really takes the cake — or perhaps the fruit salad.

According to, Freight Farms, an indoor agriculture company based in Boston, was recently searching for a way to meet the growing demand for high-quality, locally grown produce in their area.

Instead of investing in an entire warehouse, Freight Farms CEO and co-founder Brad McNamara thought outside of the box — and inside of the shipping container.

Freight Farms is now building and selling customized shipping containers known as “Leafy Green Machines.” The invention helps farmers produce a consistently bountiful crop while using 90% less water, zero pesticides, and a small amount of space.

There are roughly 20 million shipping containers crossing the world at any moment, and millions more are being used in other non-conventional ways. Freight Farms’ invention adds to the extensive list of container customization possibilities, which includes mobile offices, pop-up shops, and swimming pools.

According to the Detroit Metro Times, a trio of Michigan entrepreneurs have also added “restaurant” to the list of custom shipping container options.

ShipYard Detroit, a massive two-level shipping container “food hall,” will boast five restaurant venues, two bars, and a communal area for watching television. Its three founders plan to open the 11,600 square-foot venue sometime this summer.

As for Freight Farns, McNamara was inspired to create the Leafy Green Machine when he realized that the agriculture industry wasn’t moving in concert with technology. Many of the methods used by today’s farmers are antiquated, and the entrepreneur wanted to build something that would bring farming into the 21st century.

“The food system needs to be designed around technology and equipment that’s available today,” said McNamara. “It was designed 100 years ago without the right technology to reach the level that it needs to. The whole system needs to be modernized.”

Freight Farms’ custom containers are outfitted with everything a farmer needs to grow the best crops possible. The Leafy Green Machine features climate control, automated lighting, irrigation systems, and even mobile apps to easily monitor crops.

So far, the company has sold 54 Leafy Green Machines, including one that is currently in operation on Google’s campus in Mountain View, CA.

McNamara’s ingenuity is on clear display with the Leafy Green Machine, and it’s safe to say that more of his ideas will be adopted by the agriculture industry in the near future.

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