In 2010 I wrote a research paper to determine the greenhouse gas emission impact of a network of connected farms on urban rooftops and my interest was awakened.
2011 I was feverishly researching the tech, products and systems for commercial plant production while growing my own food and learning all that I could about greenhouse production. Meanwhile I was pursuing my degrees(MBA Sustainability & MS Environmental Science) and building a resume for my career in clean energy.
2012 I watched as clean tech made it clear that the industry frenzy had unearthed great tech, awesome innovations, brilliant entrepreneurs and game changing systems. There was a but…
At this same time I got that “all in feeling” on Agtech specifically CEA(growing indoors with led lights). I was a guy with a great technical idea, in a very important market, in search of a how to turn my hypothetical research into sustainable impact. Aka, how can this idea help people, the planet and make money? This meant a lot of things going right over a long period of time and investing myself in things that weren’t obvious but I believed would become truth someday. The easiest part for me was the tech stack and how the evolution of LEDs, sensors, automation and computing power would change how everyone thinks about agriculture. The hardest element to build personal conviction around, prove out and bet my future on was the business model to best create and provide value to a future customer. As luck would have it, business models are readily available. I found a lot I liked, built complex plans, simple plans and hybrid plans until I got profoundly excited by one. The concept of offering the power of a network of connected farms to remove the barriers to entry for various organizations and to allow more people than ever to experience fresh local produce and empower a distributed supply hit me like a ton of bricks. So I committed myself to this path…….until reality set in.
In order to execute this business, we had to had to invent it. There was no agtech industry, full indoor production was barely understood and no one had a clue how(or why) to standardize a farm module. It was painfully clear that the tech we needed for farming as a service didn’t exist and no one else was building it so we started from zero.
2012–2015 was phase one of the our required plan. Build a profitable fully enclosed farm module that anyone could operate. Today known as THE LEAFY GREEN MACHINE running on our software suite, called farmhand that created a new category and Freight Farms the de facto leader.
2016–2018 was phase two of the journey wear the rubber truly met the road as we deployed hundreds of Leafy Green Machines, trained hundreds of new farmers around the globe and processed billions of data points as we iterated on the development of the hardware, software and services. I can honestly say this was the most intense learning period of my life both personally and professionally.
It’s now 2020 and the platform has helped various businesses to grow local produce and create direct connections between farmers and eaters in 45 states and 25 countries. The network of growers, businesses, corporations and community change makers has allowed Freight Farms to make a quantum leap in our technology and unlock the most exciting potential that I imagined years ago as an idealistic grad student.
With our latest hardware platform, The Greenery and new farmhand software suite, we have the technology piece of the puzzle that allows Freight Farms to realize a dream I had in 2011 and unlock the true potential of local food for all.
The last 10 years would not be possible without the visionary customers,partners and industry colleagues who have always believed in being a part of the solution, took chances with us and provided feedback every step of the way.
It would be an understatement to say that none this would be possible without the passionate, selfless and brilliant Freight Farms past, present and future. This work is not always easy or fun and requires an intrinsic drive that often manifests itself as what some politely refer to as “quirky”. We’ve managed to embrace these “quirks” to form a beautifully weird tribe in which everyone brings their own flavor along with crazy skills to drive the company forward everyday. This collection of personalities, brains and ideas is likely our greatest accomplishment.
It’s funny, I started this post as a reflection on how I went from operations at NECEC with hopes to be part of the AEE nationally but ended up as the CEO & Co-Founder of Freight Farms. It turns out there’s a lot more to it than a quick blogpost can cover and more exciting developments to elaborate on….stay tuned!