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Posts Tagged ‘shipping container’

Photo: Jay Feinstein
Shawn Cooney and his wife Connie own Corner Stalk Farm, a container farm in East Boston, Massachusetts.

Do you get the radio show Living on Earth where you live? I find it fascinating no matter what topics they cover. Here is a recent episode on urban farming.

“HOST STEVE CURWOOD: Industrial agriculture today is a resource-intensive endeavor, requiring big machines, plenty of land, water, and energy to produce much of the food on a typical American dinner table. And as the public trends more toward plant-based foods, some are thinking outside the box by bringing farms inside the box. By retrofitting old shipping containers with grow lights and hydroponic gear, what would take about an acre of land to grow vegetables such as lettuce can be fit into just 8 by 40 feet. Living on Earth‘s Jay Feinstein and Aynsley O’Neill took a trip to Corner Stalk Farms in East Boston, Massachusetts to find out more. …

“O’NEILL: I see these shipping containers. I mean, right in the middle of these houses and behind the auto body shop … here we are!

“FEINSTEIN: You know, the funny thing is a farm like this would not have even been legal until 2013, when Boston revamped its zoning code. …

“COONEY: My name is Shawn Cooney. And I’m the partner and owner of Corner Stalk farm in East Boston, Massachusetts, and we started in 2014. So this is it. … Basically you’ve seen the whole of the farm by walking the 120 feet or so. …

“O’NEILL: Are those the plants in those columns all up and down?

“COONEY: Right. You really need just an industrial area [where] you can basically bring as many plants as possible into as little amount of square footage as possible. … In a real farm, you’re talking about square footage and acreage. Here, it’s really cubic feet. We’ve got so many feet on the floor, but we plant plants up to ten feet high. …

“We’ve got a climate control system, and a lot of fans keep the air moving so that everything’s happy. And the plants get a little bit of stress. If you just leave them without any movement, the plants actually get weak. …

“They do need to be moved around for them to have a good texture to them, so that the cell walls are thick enough, so that it’s not just eating a piece of water. …

“You can log into it from the outside world. If you want to fiddle around with settings, or just check on everything, you can do that from home, you can do it from from vacation. …

“FEINSTEIN: So how did you get into this?

“COONEY: I started three software companies and sold them. … My wife and I myself funded it, and we have loans [from] the US Department of Agriculture. …

“Mainly we grow lettuce. That’s our business. And we’ve grown tomatoes, we’ve grown lots of flowers, we’ve grown all kinds of herbs, and God knows what else. But [what] people buy every day is our greens, even our restaurants, that’s what they want. …

“FEINSTEIN: What type of environmental cost are you saving? …

“COONEY: One of the things we definitely don’t do is waste any water. No matter how good you are at growing outside, you could never grow with the kind of water use we have. We use, say 1000 plants we can grow in one unit, we probably use 25 gallons of water a week. So you couldn’t water your patio plants for a week with 25 gallons and keep them alive. …

“We adhere to the organic principles. Generally, the way we control any kind of a pest in here is kind of preemptive. We basically use ladybugs. We ship them in once a month or so, and sprinkle them around, and they pretty much do the policing of any kind of bugs in here. And when we have had to use something it’s called chrysanthemum oil. …

‘You guys want to try something a little, little further on the edge? This is called wasabi arugula. And I grow it for a couple of restaurants. And they use it instead of wasabi on their crudo and their raw fish and their raw meats. So here, take a leaf of that and be prepared. …

“FEINSTEIN: It does taste like wasabi. But it it’s a little milder, but I love it.”

More at Living on Earth, here.

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Ideas for very cheap houses keep coming around and disappearing. I remember one some years ago that was basically a covered bed, promoted as preferable to a sheet of cardboard for a homeless person but not exactly a solution to underlying issues.

See what you think of these homes in unused shipping containers.

oung professionals are living in repurposed shipping containers while the homeless are lugging around coffinlike sleeping boxes on wheels.

“These two improvised housing arrangements have emerged in an industrial pocket of Oakland where the median rent has gone up by 20 percent over the past year. One, in a warehouse, is called Containertopia, a community of young people who have set up a village of 160-square-foot shipping containers like ones used in the Port of Oakland. Each resident pays $600 a month to live in a container, which can be modified with things like insulation, glass doors, electrical outlets, solar panels and a self-contained shower and toilet. …

Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Heather Stewart created Containertopia with Luke Iseman in Oakland, Calif.

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This is not a story about creating housing for the homeless, although it could be. It’s about cutting some of the expense of construction by recycling maritime shipping containers. A company doing just that was featured in April in a NY Times interview that Vivian Marino conducted with Paul M. Galvin.

“Mr. Galvin, 52, is the chairman, chief executive and a founder of SG Blocks, a publicly traded company that repurposes maritime-grade steel cargo shipping containers into green building blocks for use in commercial, industrial and residential building construction. The containers are provided by ConGlobal Industries, a partner.”

Galvin says, “I had gotten into real estate development through a charity that I co-founded and was involved in running, and we were developing housing programs for individuals and families with AIDS. So we had to figure out a way to give them continuum care — we had to get good at real estate. And we started to develop affordable housing.

“If you’ve ever done any development in New York, you know that the construction process is not always as predictable as you would like, and so I saw this as a way to create a sustainable alternative in the marketplace and eliminate some of the risk of site-base construction. …

“We’re doing a restaurant today — Do you know Bareburger? — in Oyster Bay Cove. It’s an 11-container restaurant, so around 2,300 square feet. We just did the first seven containers between 8 o’clock and 12 o’clock today. And then tomorrow morning the last four will come. And the building will be closed in a day and a half. …

“We meet or exceed all of the structural codes.  … We’ve really approached this as an engineered building system. Every building system has some constrictions. Every product and every site works for containers. I would say that within reason we’ve been able to date to create the structure and the space plan that the structure affords.”

More here.

Photo: SG Blocks

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