Steve McLeod and Lori Medlin don't take credit for the idea of aquaponic shipping containers. McLeod remembers hearing about them 30 years ago. "There was talk about aquaponics feeding villages in Africa using oil tankers," he says, "and using shipping containers as green houses because of the durability, value, and ease of transport."
But the partners are making progress to make the idea a reality. They have a prototype "lean green growing machine" and a plan to build a compact, self-contained system constantly producing lettuce, microgreens, spinach, kale, and broccoli. Aquaponics is the process of nourishing plants with waste from fish. McLeod and Medlin germinate the plants first, then, at a certain height, they transplant them to vertical growing arrays linked to fish tanks.
They've built a prototype and are now looking for help on Kickstarter to take the project to the next level. See their campaign video here:
With the funds raised in the campaign, McLeod and Medlin want to finish building their system and offer education trainings for others to start their own operations.
Why use shipping containers? First of all, they are plentiful, McLeod says. There are about 200 million in the world. They're obviously easy to transport. They're sustainable, immune to weather (and climate), and produce tasty food with a low carbon footprint. "Fresh food taste better," McLeod says. "Put the Salad Box in a parking lot, or vacant lot, and start harvesting every week."