Take A 3D Tour Of A Vertical Farm Packed Inside A Shipping Container

These farms grow the same amount of food as a four-acre field.

In a huge warehouse just outside downtown Los Angeles, a startup turns recycled shipping containers into vertical farms. A new digital tour shows what the farms, which are each equivalent in size to a four-acre outdoor field, look like inside.


Inside one 40-foot container, trays of butter lettuce glow brightly under LED lights. Another container grows baby greens. The startup, Local Roots Farms, began as a producer, selling produce to local restaurants like Tender Greens. But when others saw how the company’s custom-designed systems outperformed other shipping container farms—growing as much as five times more produce—they started getting requests to build farms as well. The empty space in the warehouse serves as a staging ground to retrofit other containers before they are shipped around the country.

“Our years of plant research helped us figure out how to grow the most per square foot while still giving plants the room they need to thrive,” says Allison Towle, director of community engagement at Local Roots Farms. “In terms of sheer numbers we simply are able to grow more plants per box.”

The company designed LED lights that customize red, blue, and white wavelengths at different levels depending on the type of plant and its stage of growth. “For example, arugula prefers more red light, whereas butterhead lettuce prefers more blue,” says Towle. “By dialing into those colors individually we give each crop exactly what it wants. As a result, they grow more quickly and more robustly.”

The 3D tour shows the details of the tiny farms, from the irrigation system to lettuce at various stages of growth. Local Roots Farms worked with Matterport, an immersive media company that 3D scans spaces and creates virtual models, to create the tour.


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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.