Minnesota recently welcomed its first Black-owned freight farm, a revolutionary approach to addressing the state’s food insecurity and agricultural inequities.

The farm, owned by entrepreneur Marcus Carpenter of local organization Route 1, is a beacon of hope for innovation in an area where communities of color often face barriers to accessing fresh, healthy food.

Located in rural Medina, Minn., in a repurposed shipping container, the freight farm utilizes vertical farming techniques to grow various fruits and vegetables year-round.

Building on Legacy

The freight farm is housed in a 40-foot shipping container equipped with the latest technology to control factors such as temperature, light, and humidity to optimize plant growth.

“My great grandmother, Sally Carpenter, she bought our first 20 acres of land back in 1914 in northeast Arkansas,” he said. “She was able to grow that land with my grandfather to 180 acres. I’m a 4th generation farm kid, and I just feel very blessed.”

It will be housed on land Carpenter owns and leases out to local BIPOC farmers in the area.

“These shipping containers … they end up either in the ocean or in some junkyard, and so what we’re able to do with Freight Farms is use these containers,” Carpenter said, according to KARE 11.

This innovative approach allows the farm to produce a high volume of food in a small space, making it a more sustainable solution to food production in urban areas.

He said the freight option allows the farm to grow more than 200 pounds of fresh produce per week and will also give local youth opportunities to “experience agriculture.”

Carpenter’s organization, Route 1, has several programs and goals to combat food insecurity and promote healthier lifestyles in the Black community.

“It gives us an opportunity to take good, clean, culturally relevant, nutritious food and place it right down in the middle of some of our food deserts in our low to medium-income areas,” Carpenter said.

Plans for Sustainability

Once the produce is ready, Carpenter said the community can purchase it at the farm’s market.

The farm’s opening and plans are significant milestones in the local food industry and showcase the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship in rural areas.

The interest in sustainable farming practices and community engagement is a real-time example of the impact small businesses can have on their communities.