At The Citadel, cadets are growing out of the box
As seen in The Post and Couier, written by Hannah Raskin
Sgt. Ben Cohen, founder of The Citadel Sustainable Farm Project, assists with placement of first container
“Food and agricultural technology startups received $4.6 billion in investment in 2015, almost double the $2.36 billion that poured into the sector in 2014,” according to a report from agriculture investment platform AgFunder. “Companies such as John Deere and Monsanto have long invested in new technology for conventional farming, but we’re now seeing a disruption of farming itself.” — The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2016
Food activists always have paid attention to what farmers grow and where they grow it, but the hows of agriculture are becoming more complicated than the choice between organic and conventional methods. According to The Wall Street Journal, start-ups are borrowing methods from marijuana growers, who perfected the art of getting green plants to thrive under LEDs in sealed environments.
Freight Farms, the company profiled in the story, has sold 60 former refrigerated shipping containers to farmers who want to grow greens, cucumbers and tomatoes in urban areas.
“If Freight Farms achieves its ultimate goal of producing vegetables without pests or pesticide for less than the wholesale cost of their conventional alternative, boxed farming could go a long way to feeding a growing population with shrinking arable land,” the Journal reported.
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The Citadel last week installed its first container farm on the far side of a soccer field; the school hopes to add another container each year so eventually all of the produce consumed on campus will come from its boxed-up farms.
For now, the aim is to supply the mess hall’s salad bars.
“Everyone is excited for us to shape the health and fitness of the school,” says Nick Mosko, who this spring graduated with a business degree.
When staff sergeant Ben Cohen last year embarked on the container farm project, he recruited cadets studying business, chemistry and engineering.
Nine cadets will be responsible for maintaining the farm, which is set up so 1,296 seedlings can be planted in temperature-controlled vertical towers.