Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Modular Farm a shipping container?
No. It is a custom-built 40x10x10 foot composite steel box built specifically for growing plants. Shipping containers are not ideal for plant growth or humidity controls in harsh environments.
Is there a full crop list available?
You can grow just about anything in the ZipGrow Towers, however we have had the most success and best results in commercial growth with Leafy Greens such as, Rocket, Baby Bok Choy, Bok Choy, Kale, Collards, Swiss Chard, Joi Choi, as well as many varieties of Lettuce (Romaine, Oak Leaf, Radicchio, etc.) and Herbs (Chives, Basil, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, etc). We have also successfully grown Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumber and Berries on a smaller scale, and these are all in various stages of research and development. We are collecting data and hope to release more information on these in the nearfuture.
Do you have a specific crop in mind? We would be happy to look into it further for you.
Is it portable on a truck?
Yes. The Modular Farm was designed to be the absolute biggest container possible that could still ship on a freight truck, a train or a sea vessel.
Are the crops produced organic?
We follow all organic protocols, non-GMO organic seed stock, mineral based nutrients (no pesticides or herbicides), and clean with only natural products. Typically crops grown with hydroponics cannot be certified organic because they are not grown in soil. In our experience, we have found practices such as local, transparent, traceable food is more important than organic.
What is Modular Farms R Value?
Our Modular Farms come standard with an R value of 22. Our Modular Farm is a sealed container, with no windows to let drafts in, doors are not left open, etc., which allows the standard R value of 22 to work in extreme cold to extreme heat. For instance, we have recently launched Modular Farms in Australia and they experience extreme heat and the R 22 is adequate. We are confident that the R 22 will be sufficient around the world, however you can request a higher R value when purchasing your farm.
Is there information available about other modules?
Our Primary Modular Farm is $155,000 CAD, our Vestibule Module is $16,500 CAD, and our Macro Farm is available for $175,000. All of our other modules are in various engineering stages and they will become available at different times throughout this year. We would be happy to send you pricing and more information as soon as it becomes available.
What is the Modular Farms heating system?
The HVAC system cools and does not heat as the plants and lights generate enough heat to keep the farm warm. We have operated a farm in Ontario through the winter and we have not needed to add heat. The farm also has R22 value insulation to help with keeping the temperature regulated.
What is the Modular Farms electrical load?
Each 40' Module (Primary, Macro and Sprout Modules) requires single-phase, 200 amp service. The Primary and Sprout Modules draw approximately 130 amps at 180 kWh per day while the Macro Modules draw approximately 160 amps at 210 kWh per day. The farms operate at 120/240V.
Is there more information available about Lighting, Heat Load, & Spacing?
The light bars are spaced 10" to centre. The btu load / heat output calculation states each light bar will emit 406 BTU/hr.
What is the Modular Farms container?
Increased height, of 0.5’ to 2’, and width, of 2’, over a shipping container means more room for the addition of proper air delivery and dehumidification via in-farm ducting, more room for high-intensity and industry specific LED grow lamps, more room for plants and more room for farmers.
Better insulation than a shipping container, by about 60%, coupled with a sealed, truly controlled environment, mean external climate influences are much less likely, if there is any influence at all. Brand new, purpose built components will last much longer, >10 years, than a repurposed shipping container. Used shipping containers come in all sorts of conditions, from pretty good to downright horrible. With a Modular Farm you’ll never have to guess what condition your ‘new’ farm will arrive in.
A bigger container doesn’t necessarily mean more costly or complicated transportation costs. Modular Farms are designed to ship via truck, train or barge. And in North America, there is no need for custom routing nor is there a need for freight escort.
What type of lights does the Modular Farm use?
One of the most significant improvements in a Modular Farm versus every shipping container farm on the market is the fact that we’re using commercial grade, slim profile, customizable spectrum, LED grow lights. The LEDs in our farms were specifically designed to grow crops which is not always the case in competing systems on the market. That’s right, some container farms on the market include LEDs that weren’t designed to grow food.
With 240 8’ ZipGrow Growing Towers, 72 Philips Greenpower LEDs, a Multi-functional work table, and automated farm and climate control systems, the Primary Module provides unprecedented crop yields and industry leading ROI.
Combined with a properly controlled environment, our LEDs have helped us to realize a yield volume that is increased up to 80% over competing container farms on the market. Yes, 80%!
What type of environment does the Modular Farm produce?
Modular Farms builds truly controlled environments. Most, if not all, shipping container farms on the market rely on ‘fresh air’ exchange to keep things right in their farms. This causes serious issues as external temperatures, humidity, and even occasionally airborne dust, mold spores and insects, all of which are detrimental to a stable indoor farm, can and most likely will be introduced inside the shipping container.
Modular Farms has a HEPA filtered air intake and exhaust system that is only used in emergency CO2 venting situations where preservation of human life is a factor. Otherwise, our farms not only recycle water in a closed-loop, recirculating system, they also recycle air. Modular Farms are equipped with dedicated, commercial grade air conditioning and dehumidification. They can also be outfitted with an optional 5-stage UV and charcoal scrubber air purifier. That might not sound so important, but it’s actually one of the most prevalent issues in existing shipping container farms.
As an example, our dehumidifiers are capable of removing and recapturing over 52 gallons of transpired, or evaporated, water from the air inside the farm every day. That’s a lot of water! So why’s that a big deal? That water will wind up in the air regardless of a farm’s ability to recapture it and if it isn’t handled properly it can cause serious, and catastrophic issues with high humidity which usually leads to stunted plant growth, mold and mildew problems and even plant death.
The increased insulation in a Modular Farm container in addition to the closed-loop environment, means a more consistent air temperature and humidity regardless of conditions outside the farm. This in turn means a better environment for plants which produces not only greater yields, but healthier looking and more nutritious plants as well.
Is there more information available about the Entire Package?
It’s one thing to build a system that can grow food. It’s another to build one that grows food exceptionally well, can do so all year in any climate, with a real ROI for farmers and actually be a fun place to work. This cannot be said of any shipping container farm on the market.
Modular Farms are GAP certifiable, abide by provincial and national food safety standards and regulations and were built to do one thing: grow food.
Our farms are designed to accommodate up to 4 farmers working at a time. We design and build everything from a farmer’s perspective, because we’re farmers too.
With over 2 years of experience, and headaches, of farming in shipping container farms, we know how uncomfortable it can be to work in confined spaces. It might not sound like a lot, but an extra 2’ of width in our farms makes a world of difference in avoiding worker fatigue.
And have you ever tried working elbow to elbow with an 8’ tall ZipGrow Tower? Yeah, don’t. Our large island style work station is a great space to share when working with friends, family or coworkers.
Bright walls, easy access corners, smooth floors and work surfaces and a GAP certifiable workspace mean keeping a Modular Farm clean and well maintained is a breeze. Did you know you can clean the entire floor of a Modular Farm to the highest degree of cleanliness in under 5 minutes? Well you can! That’s not happening with a corrugated floor in a shipping container and is actually one of the several reasons we could not GAP certify shipping container farms when we tried. Those corrugated floors are a great place to harbor dirt, mold and bacteria. Not at all ideal for growing clean food in a small space, and certainly not an issue that can be swept under a rug.
Two separate, walkable work aisles is another great attribute of the Modular Farm. Regular visual inspections of crops are absolutely crucial if a farm is to be successful. The process of crop inspections in a Modular Farm is so terribly simple it should be outlawed. With aisle widths of almost 4’, it’s a snap to walk the farm and make sure everything is in order. You also don’t need to move towers or disturb often delicate plants to inspect crops.
This cannot be said of other container farms on the market.
ZipGrow Towers are known for their ease in processing and accessing food. Despite how fantastic it is to grow food in ZipGrow Towers, we found we could make life even easier for farmers. In Modular Farms, you don’t need to move a single tower to harvest your crops. That’s right, it’s as simple as walking up to a wall and cutting stems or pulling out a head of lettuce.
This process not only saves considerable time in harvesting food, it also eliminates substantial yield loss and plant damage normally associated to working in shipping container farms.
Support, Service & Attitude
We were farmers before we designed farms. Successful entrepreneurs before we started this company. And come from a world where customer service and community mean everything. We’ll not only answer questions and concerns in a timely manner, we’ll do it with genuine understanding of the situation at hand and uniquely, with empathy because not only have we been in your shoes, we’re still there today.
Here at Modular Farms, we want to continue to design and build vertical farms, by farmers for farmers, for the long haul. We sincerely believe you can only build a great vertical farm by being great vertical farmers first.
While we’re very confident in our knowledge and abilities, we’ll be the first to admit, although we try we’ll never know everything. That’s why we continue to collaborate with the world’s best in vertical farming. If you ask us a question and we don’t know the answer, we won’t guess or make something up but we’ll certainly have a friend close by who will be able to help.
Are modules available internationally?
Modular Farms is excited to report our Primary Module, Vestibule Module, and Macro Module are ready to ship internationally. Though our farms have been tested to produce consistently high quality and high volume yields, we have done so with farms that are designed and built for use in North America.
As such, any farms shipped internationally at this time will be done so with North American wiring and electrical standards in place. Any orders placed with a destination outside of North America will be done with the knowledge and responsibility of the buyer that farms will be received without consideration to their local, regional or national standards in regard to electrical certifications.
Is there more information available about site preparation?
Below is a list of considerations and requirements to prepare your site(s) for a Modular Farm Primary Module, Vestibule, and Macro Farm.
A Primary Module measures 44' long X 10'5" wide X 10'11" tall
A Vestibule Module measures 10'5" long X 10'5" wide x 8'9" tall
A Macro Module measures 44' long X 10'5" wide X 10'11" tall
The combined 'pad' dimensions to accommodate both connected modules should measure 50' long x 30' wide. PAD dimensions will vary by site but we can work with you once you get to the point!
The Primary Module weighs 17,600 pounds
The Vestibule Module weighs 2,500 pounds
The Macro Module weighs 19,000 pounds
Substrate / pad materials can include gravel / trap rock, railroad ties (creosote free), sonotube or concrete slab. Asphalt may be sufficient (think parking lots) but grass, soil and other soft surfaces are not suitable as the farm will sink into the ground due to its weight. Farm should be placed on a level surface as the interior components are assembled on a grade to permit gravity return of water. Farm levelling instructions will be provided once a site is selected.
Each 40' Module (Primary, Macro and Sprout Module) requires;
120/240V single-phase, 200 amp service 130 amps usage at peak.
Separate metering recommended to track electrical usage. This is not required if dedicated / direct hydro service is being provided. It is highly recommended, if not legally necessary, that you hire a certified electrician to connect your Modular Farm. We will work with your local electrician to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
Water can be provided via soft (garden hose) or hard (pipes) lines. We recommend the use of a soft, portable water safe garden hose even in regions where freezing temperatures can occur. Water replenishments occur infrequently and the risk of freezing lines and cost of pipes may be prohibitive for some new farmers. A water quality test is highly recommended before your farm arrives. This will help determine which water management protocols need to be put in place for your crops and will reveal any potential issues with bacteria, pathogens or other harmful elements.
Delivery & Unloading
Your farm will arrive on a flatbed transport / semi truck. A crane with spreader bar equipment will be required to unload your farm. The unloading and hook up process usually takes 3-5 hours.
Receiving your Modular Farm modules is a piece of kale. The hired transport and equipment operators will do most of the work and literal heavy lifting. A Modular Farm Field Agent can be hired to be onsite to ensure everything goes smoothly the day your farm arrives. This service also includes overseeing tradespeople and setting everything up inside your farm to make sure you're ready to get planting as soon as possible. There is a fee for this service.
Please contact our Sales & Support Team to learn more.
Do You Offer any Options for Financing?
Looking for financing? We've got you covered.
WE'VE PARTNERED WITH SEVERAL DIFFERENT LENDERS AND WOULD BE HAPPY TO DISCUSS THE OPTION THAT BEST FITS YOUR NEEDS.