Cited as 4th most environmentally responsible university* in 2015, SBU is first higher ed campus to get a Freight Farm.

Stony Brook University Helps Prepare Next Generation of Farmers by Introducing a Hydroponic ‘Freight Farm' On Campus

Contributed by | Stony Brook University


This fall, Stony Brook University is introducing a fresh new technology – a hydroponic Freight Farm – where student farmers can grow crops year-round in an indoor environment. Created in a discarded shipping container converted into a fully operational hydroponic farm known as the Leafy Green Machine, the Freight Farm will be primarily managed by Stony Brook students. Using the latest in farm-management technologies such as cloud-synced growth data, live camera feeds and a smartphone app that monitors and controls light levels inside the container anytime, anywhere, the students will get hands-on experience planting and harvesting lettuce, and Campus Dining will use the fresh produce to feed the student body. Stony Brook University is the first higher education campus to offer students a hydroponic Freight Farm.

“Freight Farms will provide students with the experience of eating the food they grow while enhancing their knowledge of sustainable agriculture,” said James O’Connor, Director of Sustainability and Transportation Operations at Stony Brook. “It will offer experiential learning outside of the classroom and will prepare students for the future. The introduction of the technology will not only help reinforce our ongoing sustainability efforts, but will also encourage and inspire students to be more sustainable. I’m looking forward to the first harvest this fall.”

The first harvest should occur six to eight weeks after the initial planting which occurred earlier this month. Crops are herbicide and pesticide free, and are not harmful to soil structures through the hydroponic closed environment system. The Leafy Green Machine can produce 800-1,200 heads of fresh lettuce in just a week—the equivalent to the yield of one acre. It uses 90 percent less water than outdoor farming and is sustainable year round.

Freight Farms are insulated, and all the systems including pumps, irrigation, and LED growing lights are digitally controlled. Water containing nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other nutrients are pumped from a 330-gallon reservoir into tubes that distribute the mixture over the roots of the plants in the towers. 

To learn more about Stony Brook University’s ongoing sustainability efforts go to



About Stony Brook University
​Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 24,600 students, 2,500 faculty and 20 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation and Kiplinger named it the 33rd  best value in public colleges for in-state students and 26th for out-of-state students. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook University co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounting for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.


About Freight Farms
Freight Farms is a Boston-based agriculture startup on a mission to create a more sustainable and connected food system. The flagship product, The Leafy Green Machine is a complete hydroponic growing facility built entirely inside a shipping container with environmental controls and indoor growing technology. The “LGM” allows for immediate growing of a variety of crops regardless of weather conditions resulting in access to year-round local, fresh produce that is always in season.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow

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