Containerized Growing FAQs
Containerized Growing System (CGS)
Generation IV CGS is an industrial-grade hydroponic fresh vegetable production system housed inside a 40’ insulated shipping container.
It includes everything needed to grow fresh produce and gives our customers flexibility in choosing their location.
The system can be placed anywhere with access to potable water and electricity and provides a streamlined path from the point of production to the table.
The system is professionally engineered and designed to work functionally between -60F and 85F and has been optimized for high yield, year-round production.
Containerized Growing Q&A
We've answered your most frequently asked questions below. If you don't find what you're looking for here, please contact and we'd be glad to speak with you. firstname.lastname@example.org
CGS is a complete hydroponic vegetable production facility housed inside of 40’ insulated shipping containers. This system allows produce to be grown anywhere, year-round, virtually eliminating the expensive and lengthy supply chain. By bringing on-site produce growing to remote locations, lengthy supply chains and high rates of spoilage are avoided, while providing fresher, healthier produce at lower prices to consumers.
The CGS has been deployed to many remote locations in Alaska and Canada, successfully growing produce in some of the harshest climates and geographically disparate locations in the world. In fact, CGS was the first hydroponic farm above the arctic circle.
Yes, check out the most notable highlights below:
- Total capacity – 1800 to 2250 plants
- Production capability – 23,000 to 39,000 plants/year depending on rack configuration
- Pesticide/herbicide free
- Labor requirements – estimated 10-12 hours/week
- Grow lighting - LED
- Heat – modular (oil, natural gas, propane, electric, biomass)
- Environment (pH, temperature, nutrient levels, humidity, CO2, lighting) – computer-controlled with remote access
- Custom stainless-steel commercial grade main tank that doubles as a working surface
- Porchlight for safety during entry/exit and LED utility lighting throughout
- Operational indicator light to warn users of any system or power disruption
- Thermally broken man door for ease of egress and cargo doors in the rear to allow reconfiguration and cleaning
- Vent shrouds extended to prevent freezing at air entry/exit points
- Durable and waterproof aluminum flooring with non-skid grip tape
- Water hose port, data cable port and fuel ports for convenience and ease of use
- Electrical pass-thru to accommodate hardwiring to panel and container
- Marine-grade, corrosion-resistant paint made with an environmentally sound composition
- Eyewash bottle and hand sanitizer for safety and compliance
- Small 2 step ladder for user convenience
- Storage shelves and double coat hooks for organization
- Built with food-grade and anti-corrosion materials
- Fire-rated construction. Meets or exceeds codes for grounding and bonding
- Manufacturer’s warranty – 1 year with extended warranty available
- Industrial farm, designed for arctic conditions (-60F to 85F)
Containerized Packing System/Commercial Modular Kitchen
The 40’ modular, containerized Packing and Planting unit is a pre-assembled facility designed to support the operations of up to 4 CGS containers. Packing units connect to the CGS system utilizing a weatherproof pass-through that is pre-cut at our factory and arrives ready for easy connection to create a professional growing facility. Each unit provides space for back-end operations such as planting seedlings, packing and prepping produce, cleaning equipment and administration. Additionally, packing units serve as a secondary mechanical barrier to protect the growing areas from outside contaminants, extreme temperatures and insects.
The Packing unit additionally serves as a food-safe, commercial kitchen, which allows for value-added products such as pre-cut, washed greens and herb mixes. This helps farmers to further differentiate their offering by creating unique product blends with distinct branding and marketing. Value-added products provide growers with a price premium on their produce as well as give them access to unique market niches.
- Scales to establish a large plant manufacturing facility, able to produce 93,600 to 156,000 pieces of produce per year, depending on CGS configuration
- Discrete heating or cooling system
- Corrosion-resistant aluminum and stainless-steel fabrication
- Connects up to 4 CGS units
- Addresses the many back-end needs of modular vertical farmers
- Provides additional barriers to pests and inclement weather
- Serves as a commercial kitchen adding income-generating potential and brand differentiation
Customers can choose from a variety of greens and herbs such as lettuce, kale, arugula, mint, basil, chard, parsley, cilantro, dill, thyme, and many more. The shortlist is below. Everything grown in a CGS is safe, clean, pesticide-free, and non-GMO. Standard food supply chains are measured in days and weeks, while the CGS allows a supply chain to be measured in minutes and hours. The power of locally grown produce!
Keep in mind that primarily these containerized systems were designed to grow vegetative greens such as leafy greens and culinary herbs. However, if you're not growing for strictly commercial purposes, many more variety of plants can be grown. Some of our non-commercial clients have done successfully with plants other than vegetative greens, but we can't confirm their commercial viability.
Another beautiful thing about the CGS is that you can actually grow plant starts and then either plant them in soil or resell them. Plant starts aren't cheap and this can be a great way to make extra money and appeal to the traditional gardeners, thereby diversifying your customer base. We've personally grown a variety of plant starts inside the unit and then successfully transplanted them in soil. 🙂
|Basil||Italian Large Leaf|
|Green Oakleaf Lettuce||Saladbowl|
|Green Oakleaf Lettuce||Panisse|
|Lemon Grass||West Indian or East Indian|
|Pac Choi (Bok Choy)||Joi Choi|
|Parsley||Giant of Italy|
|Red Leaf||Dark Red Lollo|
|Red Oakleaf Lettuce||Saladbowl|
|Salanova||Red Sweet Crisp|
|Salanova||Green Sweet Crisp|
|Salanova||Red Oak Leaf|
|Salanova||Green Oak Leaf|
|Swiss Chard||Bright Lights|
|Swiss Chard||Rhubarb Supreme|
|Tatsoi||Organic Asian Green|
Despite the tiny footprint, each CGS can supply more than 23,000 pieces of produce per year, which is nearly equivalent to 1 acre of farmland. That translates into about 450 per week and 1800 per month. This is specifically referring to a full supermarket-ready head of produce and not microgreens. Thus, you're looking at a much higher volume/weight of greens than most other systems on the market.
If you're interested in micro-greens and a higher rate of production, we do offer the same system with a different racking configuration. For example, instead of 23,000 pieces of produce per year, with a higher density racking configuration, you will yield 39,000 pieces per year instead. Your business model and customer niche will dictate which configuration will work best for you.
Operation of the system requires no background in agriculture or technical skillset, and anyone can become a producer with minimal effort.
This greatly depends on how you choose to package your produce and your market. On average most growers will need 12-16 hours per week to operate a unit successfully. We tell our newer farmers to estimate 20 hours per week to start with and after several harvests and accumulated experience, that number will go down to about 12-16 hours.
The cost of consumables is around $6K/year and it includes all the seeds, Rockwool, seed trays, nutrients, pH buffer, pH sensor replacement, pH and EC calibration solutions. We will ship everything you need inside the CGS.
We are glad you asked! Check out these 3 articles we've written specifically highlighting several of our farmers and how they got started. We talk about what went well and what didn't, so you can make an informed decision on your own.
While not certified USDA Organic, they are based off naturally sourced mineral salts and are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a wide variety of plants. Nutrients should rarely need additional supplementation. If you’d like MSDS sheets on our nutrients, please send us an email.
Some are. You will be able to find that in the product description. Additionally, all of our seeds are non-GMO.
Rockwool is an inert mineral substrate that serves as an anchor for roots; it is designed to help seeds germinate and to hold a plant in place while growing in the hydroponic trays. It is made from granite or limestone and is melted and spun. It absorbs moisture and retains air pockets for germinating plants.
Rockwool comes in a sheet that sits on a tray or a flat. Each sheet contains 200 individual 1”L x 1”W x 1.5”H squares. VHH recommends using one seed per cube. These squares will need to be separated before seeding and transplanting. The top of each cube is marked by a small dimple, and tapers towards the base.
Food safety is a sole responsibility of the grower. We advise that you should get familiar with all applicable federal and state regulations, particularly if you’re selling your produce. We can get you started by providing you with a list of links on this subject below. These are a mix of federal and state resources regarding food safety. This list is by no means exhaustive or complete. We recommend that you conduct your own research on this topic. Additonally, make sure to check with your local authorities to ensure you’re following the proper and current guidelines, laws and regulations.
DEC Produce Safety Program
This is a website for the department of environmental conservtion for the state of Alaska and you should check with your applicable state for guidelines, rules and regulations.
Printed food safety manuals are also available. Please contact your local Cooperative Extension Service, USDA Service Center or your local health department.
Hydroponics, by definition, is a method of growing plants in a water based, nutrient rich solution. Hydroponics does not use soil; instead the root system is supported using an inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, or vermiculite. The basic premise behind hydroponics is to allow the plants roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while also having access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth.
For more info on what is hydroponics, the advantages and benefits of hydroponics, check out our blog: Top 15 Reasons Why You Should Grow Vegetables in a Hydroponic Garden.
There are numerous advantages to growing plants hydroponically vs. growing outdoors in soil. For starters, hydroponic herbs and greens grow considerably faster than outdoors because the plants are given exactly what they need and nothing they don’t. By removing stress from the growing environment you can experience rapid growth and healthy, nutritious plants. Plant density per square foot is also much greater in a CGS compared to soil. This allows you to get high yields from a small footprint. It is a much easier way of gardening on our bodies and still provides all the enjoyment of growing your own food. In a CGS, produce grows year-round and is never impacted by the changing seasons. It is also sustainable and economic! All of this coupled with drastically lower water and fertilizer usage means that the CGS makes sense for many different people for any number of different reasons. For more info about why choose hydroponics, please visit our homepage and check out this blog post.
As long as the required elements for survival and growth are present, plants in fact don’t need soil. What do plants need? They need carbon dioxide, water, nutrients, light energy and some love. Given these elements are present, to include nutrients that would otherwise be found in soil suspended in solution, most plants can be grown hydroponically.
In most cases, heating is not a major operating cost. The heat generated from the grow lights is often enough to keep the unit at the correct temperature down to about 0F. The containers are insulated to about R20 . You have a choice of oil stove, electrical, or heat pumps systems. Your primary operating costs are going to be labor and electricity.
Site Prep and Installation
The customer is responsible for prepping the area for the CGS installation (prior to CGS arrival on-site) by following the guidelines below. We will also provide you with a welcome packet that will have detailed drawings and checklists to make sure the site prep goes as smoothly as possible.
- Landing Pad. Landing pad must be a leveled area of no less than 40’ x 10’ and must be able to hold 20,000 lbs. Additionally, you'll want to clear a walkable area of at least 4 feet around the CGS.
- Electric. Ensure that there is adequate electric hook up prior to CGS installation. Electric drop must be 240VAC single-phase power with a 100 amp breaker.
- Potable water. You will need to have access to potable water nearby. Also, we recommend that approximately 550 gallons of potable water is available during the installation for testing purposes.
- CGS Hook up. It is really important that the container is on the landing pad before VHH comes out to install the CGS and conduct on-site training. Installation will be scheduled after CGS’s arrival onto the landing pad.
Manufacturing and Shipping
The general timeline is as follows:
- Customer places the order
- VHH manufactures each system in Spokane, Washington
- VHH delivers the finished product FOB Spokane dock
- System ships to a location of choice (we can provide logistics if requested)
- System lands at the designated location and must be transported to a landing pad
- Customer delivers utility services to the system (site prep)
- VHH is available to unpack, install, and test the overall system and train the customer on operation
- System enters into operation
Manufacturing takes about 10 weeks, plus about 2-3 weeks for delivery, depending on your location. This, of course, depends on barge (or other means) availability due to seasonality and other factors.
This greatly depends on where you are located and your local infrastructure. Shipping costs can be as high as 18K in extremely rural areas or as low as a few thousand for international ports and areas with access to roads. We will send a +-20% shipping estimate with your final quote.
All of our systems are manufactured and assembled in Spokane, Washington.
Once the unit is manufactured, it is available for pick up FOB Spokane dock in Washington. The customer can either decide to handle logistics going forward or they can request VHH to handle shipping to the final location of choice.