If you’re a restaurant, your customers, and maybe even your chefs, may have mentioned their desire for more locally sourced and locally grown food.
You probably haven’t realized that you could provide all of those options right outside your door.
More and more consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it was made, who made it, etc. Not only do they want to help support their local farmers, preserve farmlands, and help the environment, they’re also willing to pay slightly more for fresh, local food.
In this article, we’ll look at four reasons why restaurants should consider container farming and how to get started.
What is Container Farming?
Container farming, also known as vertical farming, is the process of using refurbished ISO refrigerated shipping containers by setting up hydroponic or aeroponic environments to grow leafy greens, microgreens, and herbs.
Container farming allows for produce and crops to grow in a soilless environment, meaning that plants receive nutrients through direct means that don’t involve soil. The crops are then planted on vertical shelves, which allows for increased crop yields and a greater variety of crops.
Now that you know a little more about container farming, let’s look at some benefits to growing your own leafy greens and vegetables.
4 Reasons Why Restaurants Should Consider Container Farming
1. Plant all year-round
One of the major benefits of container farming, is the ability to plant crops all year-round. You can farm vegetables and leafy greens in the off-season, provide fresh crops and produce in areas that might not have access to locally sourced foods.
There’s also the benefit of not worrying about weather conditions. With traditional farming, changes in weather or extreme weather can cause crop damage or even delays.
With container farming, weather is never a worry!
Rain, sleet, or snow, your crops or produce will continue to grow within your container farm.
2. No worries about pests
Container farming is done in a controlled environment, which not only blocks out erratic weather patterns as we mentioned before, but it also blocks out bugs and insects.
Locusts, for instance, are extremely destructive on crops in many parts of the world, especially in Africa. Swarms of these pests can be up to 460 square miles in size and can contain between 40 and 80 million locusts.
An individual locust can eat its weight in plants every day, so a large swarm could devour nearly 423 million pounds of plants.
But in using a container farm, your restaurant doesn’t need to worry about these types of pests.
3. Harvest a large amount of produce monthly
Container farms can create monthly, weekly or even daily harvests. This means that you will consistently have fresh produce and crops.
Depending on the crop, you could expect between 200-400 pounds of herbs or leafy greens a month!
Not only do you get a consistent supply of leafy greens, vegetables, herbs, and microgreens, you also don’t have to worry about transport delivery. Many restaurants receive their produce from distributers, but sometimes these deliveries can take two hours or longer to be delivered.
Long travel can affect the freshness or even spoil those vegetables and other leafy greens. According to the US Department of Agriculture, there is an estimated 30-40% waste of our food supply in the US.
That’s nearly 133 billion pounds of food and almost $161 billion dollars on cost!
4. Easily remote control your farm
Restaurants are busy places!
Orders are coming in and going, patrons are coming in and going, there’s a lot of activity. You might think with so much to do, you won’t have time to go out and check on your crops.
Container farms have digital systems that can be controlled remotely, usually through a smartphone or computer app. These are great ways of getting notified about everything that’s happening within the container farm, including:
- Temperature of the container
- pH balance of the crops or produce inside
- Control the climate, lights, and CO2 levels
- Get real-time data analytics for yields
How to Get Started Container Farming
Now that we’ve looked at the reason’s restaurants should consider container farming, how exactly does a restaurant, or anyone for that matter, start their own container farm?
It’s actually quite easy to start a container farm business!
We created a helpful guide that looks at a few things that you can do to get started, including:
- Getting a loan for your container farm business
- Selecting the best container farm design
- How to grow and harvest
As a restaurant, you may already have many of these tracks in place, so the advantage of adding container farming is serving fresh and nutritious foods to your customers right from your restaurant’s back yard.
We’ve looked at four different reasons why restaurants should consider container farming, what container farming is, and how your restaurant can get started with container farming. Consumers are hoping to find, learn, and enjoy the food they eat and restaurants and eateries can be the perfect place and introduction to new ways of receiving and eating fresh food.
If you’d like to learn more about container farming, please visit our website to fill out a contact form or give us a call at 602.753.3469.