DeMario Vitalis is an experienced farmer and the owner of New Age Provisions Farms, a farming business based in Indianapolis. Recently, he began searching for a method that provides him more control over his work.
In 2019, Vitalis began working with Boston-based Freight Farms, a company that provides farmers with cultivation software integrated within 320-square-foot shipping cannabis containers. He received his first shipping container from the company in August 2020 and his second one in January.
Freight Farms’s automated growing technology — the Greenery S and Farmhand — allows cultivators to control and access their hemp and cannabis operations from anywhere in the world.
The Greenery S uses four specialized systems to control air, light, water, and nutrient controls inside the 40-foot shipping containers. It also has sensors throughout the grow area to relay information about the grow directly to Farmhand, the operating system app that growers can use on their phone.
For Vitalis one of the biggest learning curves transitioning from growing to growing hydroponically was managing all of the necessary resources firsthand — getting the right mix of nutrients, monitoring the water supply, etc.
“When you grow outdoors, the nutrients are provided with the soil, but in a shipping container, you have to supplement the nutrients and the dosing tanks,” Vitalis says. He highlighted how you must, “…make sure the tanks are filled, the pumps are running, and that there’s water flowing because the machine will tell you that the pump is on and that it’s running, but it won’t tell you that there’s water flowing through the pumps.”
One of the most significant benefits of growing hydroponic cannabis and hemp in a shipping container is that growers can harvest year-round in areas that reach extremely hot or cold temperatures.
James Woolard, chief marketing officer at Freight Farms, advises that growers have a good understanding of their local zoning, regulations, and customer base before cultivating in a shipping container.