Elon Musk has always dreamed big. He basically applied a defibrillator to the nascent electric car industry and now he’s building rocket ships to take him to infinity and beyond. His brother, Kimbal, on the other hand is a little more down to Earth.
Kimbal Musk is a food guy. A couple years after his brother sold PayPal, Kimbal opened The Kitchen Restaurant Group which now has restaurants across the US. Kimbal’s kitchens didn’t just serve any old fare, however, they maintained a strict rule to only serve locally sourced meat and produce, and today Kimbal is even on the board of Chipotle.
It’s no surprise then that a man dedicated to locally sourcing produce would also have an interest in growing food locally. Through the Kitchen Restaurant Group, Kimbal founded The Kitchen Community, an educational gardening organization that is now called BigGreen. Big green builds community gardens to teach local communities and especially children how to garden for food.
Enter Square Roots. If you’re going to build restaurants in the city that serve only local produce, then you need local produce to serve, hence, urban farming. But Kimbal wasn’t content with simply buying a warehouse and attempting yet another failed urban vertical garden experiment, no, he wanted to make it modular, and portable, and square…ish. Kimbal Musk wanted to build a farm inside of a shipping container.
Imagine, a truck rolls up to the backlot of a trendy bistro and drops off a shipping container. What could possibly be inside? Well, if it’s got the Musk name attached to it, you can bet your sweet potato that it’s going to have technology inside, and that’s a bet you’d win.
Each container contains a compact, self-sufficient, hydroponic farm that, according to their website, “… can yield more than more 50 lbs of leafy greens each week and only needs about eight gallons of water a day.” My coffee habit needs more than eight gallons of water a day!
What’s more, they offer a 13-month training programs for entrepreneurs to use these units to not only grow food, but to run a business growing food, and becoming a local urban farming leader. This concept of modularizing and containerizing urban farms is a boon to food deserts across the nation. In dead, paved over cities where there are more parking lots than cars to park, filling these spaces with highly efficient food factories just might be the solution these areas need, while providing business opportunities for poverty stricken areas.