The Farm from a Box contains everything needed to run a small, off-the-grid farm: solar panels for power, water filtration equipment, pumps for irrigation, and decent tools. There's even an on-board computer for land mapping and soil monitoring.
Developed in California, the box is an all-in-one kit designed to spread modern farming techniques to where they're needed, whether that's small plots of land in Africa or refugee camps in, well, lots of places these days.
"We want to develop this as a rapid response transitional food production system," says Brandi DeCarli, co-founder of the Farm from a Box project. "The box is really infrastructure for places that are struggling with a lack of infrastructure."
Most farms in the world are under one hectare in size, and many can't be irrigated because they lack power. Solar power can allow farmers to use drip irrigation, which delivers small droplets of water and fertilizer to the base of plants. That means farmers are not dependent on rains: They can grow more food and more types of food.
Farm from a Box has a prototype installation in Sonoma, California, with another set to launch in Ethiopia's Rift Valley early next year. Each will cost between $25,000-$45,000 depending on the level of technology inside. The most expensive versions will come with the mapping and sensing capabilities, while the lower-end ones will be more rudimentary.
DeCarli hopes to sell the box to the aid agencies or multinational companies as an alternative to distributing food. Giving local people the ability to farm could reduce the need for costly imports, she says. "It's about being able to supply them with the tools to be able to grow and sustain reliable crops on their own."