Evolving Labor Trends Turn Mushroom Farming into Viable and Profitable Option​

Chestnut mushrooms in a fruiting chamber

Evolving Labor Trends Turn Mushroom Farming into Viable & Profitable Option

Chestnut mushrooms in a fruiting chamber

Nearly everyone has heard about recent workplace trends said to have arisen from the pandemic, like “quiet quitting,” when in fact people have been re-assessing their priorities and career choices for years in an effort to strike a more equitable work-life balance.

 

There’s generally more awareness about workers leaving their jobs in pursuit of something more fulfilling. Finding a passion and turning it into a lucrative source of income is the goal, and turnkey solutions like container-based mushroom farming are receiving more recognition and acceptance as a low-overhead avenue to success.

 

Starting a career in farming might sound daunting, but a Denver-area company called FarmBox Foods makes it accessible, even for those with no prior experience in agriculture. FarmBox Foods manufactures high-yield Gourmet Mushroom Farms inside insulated shipping containers, allowing people to grow popular varieties of mushrooms year-round and create multiple revenue streams in the process. The privately owned company also trains you how to do it.

 

It’s a viable solution for those who don’t have millions of dollars to invest in a new business venture. There’s no need to buy farmland (the containers have a footprint of 320 square-feet) and all of the necessary equipment for start-to-finish mushroom cultivation is included. And customers can even finance the container farms, which generate more than $1.2 million in profits over their projected 10-year lifespan.

 

The farms open up opportunities for sustainable food production in places that currently lack access to fresh food, including islands. More than 90 percent of food consumed on islands is imported, which increases costs, reduces quality and results in food miles that impact the environment.

 

“It’s something that people can really pour their heart and soul into,” said Rusty Walker, CEO of FarmBox Foods. “It’s not just a new career. It allows you to live and work where you want to and get a good return on your investment while doing something that gives back to the community.”

 

The controlled-climate mushroom farms use a digital control panel and a network of sensors to monitor and automatically adjust conditions inside the farm for optimal growing. The farms can grow nearly 20 varieties of mushrooms, including lion’s mane, oysters, king trumpets and reishi, and yield around 400 pounds of mushrooms per week.

 

To learn more about purchasing or leasing a Gourmet Mushroom Farm, or to schedule an in-person or virtual tour, visit farmboxfoods.com/gourmet-mushroom-farm/.

FarmBox Foods launches indoor farm that grows livestock feed

Trays of hydroponic fodder growing in an indoor farm.

FarmBox Foods Launches Indoor Farm That Grows Livestock Feed

Trays of hydroponic fodder growing in an indoor farm.

FarmBox Foods LLC is excited to announce the official launch of its Hydroponic Fodder Farm.

The company hosted a public open house on Sept. 27 at our home base in Sedalia, CO. Guided tours of the new indoor farm — the third product line offered by FarmBox Foods — were provided. Attendees also received a tour of the company’s other tech-assisted, containerized farms: the Vertical Hydroponic Farm and Gourmet Mushroom Farm.

What exactly is fodder? It’s a nutrient-dense hay that’s used as a dietary supplement for horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, rabbits and alpacas.

(Want to learn more about FarmBox Foods? Watch our July appearance on ABC News here)

By growing fodder on site year-round, farmers and ranchers can avoid supply chain disruptions, sourcing issues and spikes in hay prices. The controlled-climate farms provide a reliable, hyperlocal source of fresh food while shielding the barley fodder from weather and climate impacts, including drought, heat waves, freezes and floods. The farms are housed inside upcycled, insulated shipping containers outfitted with plumbing, electrical and sensors to control conditions inside. The 320 square-foot farms also capture, filter and recycle water for maximum water efficiency. 

Protein-rich fodder improves the overall health of livestock, supplements hydration and adds weight to beef cattle. It also promotes the production of better-quality milk for dairy cows and goats, improves fertility rates, reduces the likelihood of illness, and decreases methane output because of its superior digestibility compared to traditional alfalfa hay.

Because barley fodder requires only a 7-day growth cycle, a staggered schedule allows farmers and ranchers to harvest around 880 pounds of fodder per day.

What makes FarmBox Foods a green-oriented company?

A cow eating hydroponic fodder

What makes FarmBox Foods a green-oriented company?

A cow eating hydroponic fodder
We use only upcycled shipping containers.
We give used, insulated shipping containers a new life: growing food at scale in areas that struggle with reliable cultivation and/or access. By outfitting them with the components to grow produce, the repurposed containers are kept out of landfills and scrap heaps.
 
The farms we build are designed to promote efficient water usage.
We capture, filter and reuse water in both our Hydroponic Fodder Farm and our Vertical Hydroponic Farm, which requires only about 5 gallons of water per day. Water is often lost to evaporation and transpiration in traditional farm settings. By recycling the water, our farms get the most out of every drop. In times of severe drought and diminishing water supplies, this efficiency is critically important. 
 
The farms were built to reduce energy usage associated with agricultural production.
Our Vertical Hydroponic Farm uses around 190 kwh per day, the energy equivalent of two loads of laundry. The Gourmet Mushroom Farm uses even less, drawing an average of only 80 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day. High-efficiency, low-energy LED lights are used in FarmBox containers to reduce energy consumption.
 
Reduced need for fossil fuels.
Every kilogram/pound of food waste has a corresponding waste factor for energy, labor, water, carbon emissions, etc. It takes a lot to get produce from point A to point B, including diesel fuel to power trucks and trains. Transporting goods across long distances could be a thing of the past, as our portable container farms enable people to grow food near the consumer, thereby reducing emissions and expenses. Hyper-local growing almost entirely removes the supply chain — and its ongoing issues — from the equation.
 
Indoor farms don’t require the use of pesticides.
Because our farms are enclosed, they’re protected from many of the variables that keep traditional farmers up at night, like drought, flooding, heat waves and hail. But it also prevents impacts from pests, and therefore, pesticides are not required in our farms. As a result, the water discharged from the Vertical Hydroponic Farms and Hydroponic Fodder Farms we build does not contribute to groundwater contamination.
 
Fodder consumption by livestock reduces methane output.
Barley fodder is easier to digest than traditional alfalfa hay and other nutritional supplements, and because of this, less methane is emitted into the atmosphere. We’re in the process of gathering more specific data to quantify the reduction of methane from different types of animals, and how that reduction corresponds with their respective intake of protein-rich fodder.
 
Growing near the consumer reduces the likelihood of food waste.
After being harvested, produce grown in traditional outdoor settings often spends a few days on trucks and in distribution centers before it arrives at the store. Hyperlocal growing helps fresh veggies arrive on consumers’ plates and in their refrigerators much sooner — often within 24 hours of being harvested. The produce maintains its shelf life, which provides a longer period of time to eat the food. This results in less food waste at the consumer level.
 
Our farms can run off solar power.
Anyone who wants to grow nutrient-dense food off-grid can do so by hooking their farm up to a small solar grid. 
 
Compost from our Gourmet Mushroom Farms helps promote soil health.
The spent substrate from FarmBox Foods’ GMF showroom model is donated to the local community to be used as nutrient-rich compost. The seedling pods and spent mushroom substrate can be used for further plant-growing compost once they are removed from the farms. The spent mushroom substrate, in particular, is quite sought after for this purpose. These eco-friendly by-products can also be incorporated into the soil, and the substrate will continue to grow mushrooms if properly managed.
 
Soil rejuvenation and less need for agricultural acreage.
Millions of acres of America’s traditionally fertile soil have been stripped of vital nutrients, and farmers are compelled to implement crop rotation and remediation steps like composting to regenerate agricultural land. A FarmBox occupies only 320 square-feet of space (they can also be stacked), does not need soil, and allows farmers to revitalize oft-used ag soil.
Furthermore, clear-cutting forests to make room for agriculture is not necessary for some crops. Farmers can utilize available vertical space to grow more food on a smaller footprint.

FarmBox Foods Launches New Tagline, Slogan and Company Values

FarmBox Foods has established a set of core values to guide existing and future relationships, and created a tagline that captures the company’s focus on innovation.

FarmBox Foods, a Colorado-based manufacturer of high-tech container farms, has spent the last four years developing proof of concept in multiple industries by helping people grow gourmet mushrooms, leafy greens, culinary herbs, peppers, small tomatoes and trees. The mission-driven company is focused on helping partners feed those living in food deserts while empowering local communities and providing jobs and educational opportunities.

The new slogan, “Farm Anywhere,” encapsulates in two words what the tech-driven farms allow users to do, and the new tagline, “Innovating to Feed the World,” captures the spirit of FarmBox Foods’ goal of continued improvement in creating the tools that provide communities with a reliable source of nutrient-dense foods, regardless of the time of year or their location.

The company’s revised vision hones in on its core beliefs.

“We believe that no one should go hungry. We see a world where everyone has access to a sustainable source of healthy, locally grown food.”

FarmBox Foods’ newly established company values represent how the organization has conducted itself since its inception, and how it will operate going forward both internally and externally. The values are meant to convey to current and future partners what the company stands for and why.

  • ●  Relationships – The way we connect with people guides everything we do. Our values stem from our conscious commitment to help feed the world.

  • ●  Purpose – We intentionally operate with faith, selflessness, and service to others. We find meaning in making a difference in the world. Our foundation is built on our belief in “values over profit.”

  • ●  Loyalty – Our partners trust us to do the right thing every time. We show up in our relationships with integrity, vulnerability, and honesty.

  • ●  Compassion – We strive to understand the diverse needs and strengths of the communities we serve by continually learning, listening, practicing empathy, showing humility, and expressing gratitude.

  • ●  Determination – We are committed to customer focus through hard work and discipline. We’re passionate about helping others transform their communities through continuous innovation that creates a foundation for food security.

  • ●  Mentorship – We believe that trust, accountability, and initiative are pillars of a successful team. We make time for people and cultivate an environment where we’re all leaders and learners.

Go to www.FarmBoxFoods.com/company-values to learn more. 

Fighting Back Against Hunger and Improving Food Access

Greenstar lettuce

“The world is at a critical juncture.”

That’s the headline of an article about the state of food security and nutrition in the world. In painstaking detail, the Food and Agriculture Organization at the United Nations uses the article to describe how the number of people affected by hunger globally increased in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It estimates that between 720 million and 811 million people faced hunger. If you go with the middle of the projected range — around 768 million — 118 million more people faced hunger in 2020 than in 2019. How does this happen and what’s being done about it?

The Food and Agriculture Organization at the United Nations says that unless bold actions are taken to accelerate progress, especially actions to address major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition and inequalities affecting access to food, hunger will not be eradicated by 2030, as the U.N. had hoped.

After remaining virtually unchanged from 2014 to 2019, the prevalence of undernourishment climbed to around 9.9 percent in 2020, from 8.4 percent a year earlier, the article says.

According to FoodBankNews.org, all of this activity is happening against a backdrop of heightened emphasis on nutrition from the USDA, which in mid-March released a report outlining its commitment to nutrition security (in addition to food security). The USDA noted the importance of nutrition in fighting diet-related disease, which is a leading cause of illness in the U.S., accounting for more than 600,000 deaths each year, or more than 40,000 each month.

Sadly, the pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, especially when it comes to access. New farming practices, including controlled-environment agriculture, are increasingly being recognized as a potential solution to fill the gaps and avoid supply chain delays entirely. 

Strategically placing container farms in and around population centers could have a dramatic effect on providing a sustainable and secure source of nutrient-rich food. These farms can produce 200-300 pounds of fresh food weekly and help feed people in marginalized communities. They can also be used to help train the next generation of urban farmers and create jobs, providing ancillary benefits that can reverberate for years to come.