growing marijuana in shipping containers

In half of the city’s 50 or so structure fires each year, firefighters come upon “grow” rooms, said Arcata Fire Chief John McFarland.

Then he bought four metal shipping containers and buried them in the hole. Inside the containers, Sasso installed 32 1,000-watt lights, a ventilation system and plumbing – all of it powered by a 60-kilowatt generator. His subterranean plantation produced 60 pounds of pot every 56 days, the time it took to turn a crop. They were popular strains, with names like Blueberry, Herojuana, White Widow and Big Red.

They bought homesteads for $100 an acre from ranchers and timber companies. They lived in tents. The names they gave their children embodied their values: Canyon, Ocean, Greenleaf, Sunny Day on the Mattole.

All this would have been unthinkable 40 years ago when hippies, runaways and Vietnam veterans headed to the Northern California outback in one of America’s last pioneer movements, called Back to the Land.

Many indoor growers now oppose legalization of marijuana, believing it would further depress prices. Others, including some conservative retirees in the Emerald Triangle, yearn for legalization, hoping it would end indoor cultivation.

Grow shops — legitimate businesses that sell everything a pot farmer needs except the seeds — spread across the region. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department has counted 22 grow stores — one for about every 4,500 residents. Arcata has twice as many such stores as supermarkets.

In the city of Arcata in Humboldt County, several hundred houses are partly or entirely devoted to growing marijuana, said Police Chief Tom Chapman. This has led to more residential fires, a consequence of overburdened wiring.

That’s not the only way the pot business has changed. Now, so many people are growing that wholesale prices have dropped.

The spread of medical marijuana dispensaries has contributed to demand for indoor varieties. The dispensaries need a year-round flow of identical product that only indoor grows can produce.

Still, economic interests have grown up around indoor pot: grow shops, nutrient manufacturers, urban dispensaries.

A cultural backlash against indoor is forming. In a recent Humboldt County Craigslist personal ad, a woman seeking a man insisted on “No indoor growers. Yuck.” An unsigned ad in the weekly North Coast Journal noted indoor’s carbon footprint and urged farmers to “Put ‘Em in the Sun … as nature intended.”

As he bought other ranches, he hired more workers, including more than a dozen women – some single mothers, some retirees — who trimmed his buds as they were harvested.

Years ago, hippies complained that logging companies kept their profits while foisting environmental costs on the public. Indoor marijuana growers have done much the same thing on a smaller scale.

He bought eight swamp coolers to ventilate the grow room and a large water tank, with lines running to the buried containers. The plants needed 440 gallons of water a day – about what a typical family of five uses. Sasso took it from a nearby spring.

“I grew up believing that the only way to make money was to grow marijuana, and I was good at it,” said Sasso, now 42 and serving a 14-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Atwater.

Across rural America, farm towns became ghost towns. But in the Triangle, pot supported communities of small farms, locally owned businesses and young people. “Marijuana saved the family farm,” said Gerald Myers, former chief of the Briceland Volunteer Fire Department in southern Humboldt.

His harvests paid for expensive trucks, skydiving in Maui, boogie-boarding in Chile and a five-bedroom home with a four-car garage. He eventually owned five ranches, including two in Oregon, and says he took in as much as $11 million a year.

Nowhere is the ascendancy of indoor pot more evident than in the rugged hills of the Emerald Triangle: Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties, where some of the most potent weed in America is grown.

Units can easily be delivered to any location and are ready to construct. The set-up process is quick, easy, and requires limited resources. Also, they are easy to take down if you want to move your grow room to a new location.

By using commercial containers, growers can control air temperature, water temperature, humidity levels, CO 2 levels and ventilation with precision accuracy. These containers keep your grow more discreet as well as help you achieve a healthier environment compared to greenhouses, which can be vulnerable to extreme weather, pests and other threats.

Many companies that provide growing containers have theirs made of composite materials that are impervious to mold, mildew, rot and insects—a major advantage for growers.

If you decide growing with a reclaimed commercial container might be right for you, make sure to do your initial research when looking into companies to make sure their product checks all of your boxes.

There are many advantages and benefits to growing cannabis in commercial shipping containers. We now live in a time when cannabis cultivation is becoming more widely accepted, and this means more options for growers who are already active in the cannabis community. With a little research on the web, you can find many options when purchasing a growing container to house your plants.

Buying Your Shipping Container.

Many are reasonably priced and can be easily purchased online. Most of these containers come ready to grow with features that include 60-amp electrical panels; electrical outlets; a ¾ in. water connection stub with valve shut-off; 2 in. floor drains; ventilation ports; Uni-strut along long walls; and easy entry-exit. Some units also have insulated building panels that can house vertical hydroponic growing systems.

Commercial grow containers come with a few obstacles. Many that are recovered are old and corroded, leaving a grower with many environmental considerations and repairs. I suggest using a qualified company that specializes in the reclamation of shipping containers.

Commercial shipping containers are emerging as a safe, secure way to grow plants. Already, people have used them for many creative applications that include homes, schools, swimming pools, and even a bridge. With a little planning, containers can be a secure and productive venue to grow your own medical marijuana, too.

​From homes to pop-up food trucks, swimming pools to playgrounds, people are finding creative ways to make use of retired shipping containers. It’s all about the global movement to reduce and reuse waste. Deonna Marie explores the potential of cultivating cannabis in containers.

If you decide to start from scratch with a retired shipping container, do your due diligence. Hire a licensed electrician and don’t skip any corners; it could end up costing you more in the long run.

You can customize your own container when ordering from certain companies. They are versatile in their applications and can be placed almost anywhere, and you also have the power to control your growing environment and customize any container for your growing needs.

Most commercial growing containers are not initially set up for you to get growing right away; you’re going to have to do prep work before you get started. Hard work can pay off in the long run, though.

Inside of a commercial shipping container.

For more information on growing cannabis in shipping containers, check out Freight Farms , and Growtainer , two pioneering companies that provide complete solutions looking for growers wanting to get up and growing ASAP.

Do Your Research.

The shipping container itself can be ordered online for delivery. Some suppliers will allow you to customize the shipping container slightly depending on your personal needs for example size or layout or access panels, but expect to have to make some adaptation for entry/exit ports, insulation and drywalling. There are plenty of guides available online to customize your commercial shipping containers to show you how to do this. You can also order cleaned reclaimed shipping containers but beware of damage – these steel boxes have had a hard life!

With outdoor cannabis grows you need full understanding of the cannabis strains’ needs, as well as the climate in the region to maximize the help you get from Mother Nature. This is because marijuana is a notoriously delicate plant and needs just the right conditions to thrive and flourish.

If you are thinking about creating a cannabis extraction business, then ending up with a slightly decreased quality and/or potency of the end product as the extraction process is more critical to your product. However if you want to get into the dried cannabis flower market you will not be able to make such compromises.

With these exciting forecasts for growth, many cannabis industry growers want to scale up their business to make the most of this opportunity. But even those growing for personal use will be interested in maximizing their output from their growing space. If your space is a spare room or a backyard tent, the options are very limited. In either case, grow space is a huge factor in your cannabis operation.

Using shipping containers to grow marijuana in this sense gives significant freedom of choice for the location as well as privacy. The shipping containers are standard sizes: 40ft or 20ft long. They only need flat ground and access to water and electricity. They are airtight and portable so you can grow anywhere. Downtown Anchorage not working out? You could transport your entire facility to Southern California. Changing location is easier than moving house.

Growing Cannabis in Shipping Containers Gives You Control.

Professional commercial cannabis growers will know that more control means higher cost and operating capital. On the one hand, having an enclosed and controlled environment means container farm grown cannabis has fewer issues with pests, powdery mildew or mold while improving yield and quality.

Getting a share in a communal marijuana to grow space using shipping containers can even give you the opportunity to test the water before stepping up to become a full commercial marijuana grower, without having to take on burdensome debt and still setup a reliable and well-functioning indoor growing space on your own.

You will also need to consider electrical panels and outlets, floor drains, water connection stub, and ventilation ducts and ports, among others items for customization.

Based on the growth rates in states where cannabis has already been legalized, the market for legal cannabis sales in the US is expected to grow to over $20 billion by 2021.

There are basically two choices for shipping containers for growing weed:

With a shipping container, the environment is sealed airtight and completely controllable – light, heat, humidity and airflow can be fine-tuned and monitored to create the perfect environment as your plants grow. Done properly this can maximise yield and give you a greater choice of crop. Even if you are a hobbyist you can still benefit from a shipping container.

For example, you could start with a 20-foot box with some friends or fellow enthusiasts to start a communal grow and learn more about the techniques. Then eventually you can go with a 40-foot box with more people. You can still share the costs of fitting out and infrastructure. Sound crazy? It’s a business model already popular in container farming in Brooklyn.

Your major choice with a turnkey container is size. Most suppliers will provide 20ft or 40ft units optimised for your crop. These containers will typically come with a built-in lighting system, ventilation, entry/exit, as well as humidity and temperature control systems, usually connected to a cloud-based internet dashboard.

A number of technologies come together to create a new way of approaching this problem, with learning from mainstream agriculture, indoor farming and even NASA’s experiments growing food in space! All these and more have led to the introduction and popularity of the shipping container for growing marijuana.

On top of this, zoning regulations and insurance policies may mean that building owners will not be able to let you rent space. Even if you find space you will need to ensure it’s secure and perhaps have some privacy from prying eyes.

Benefits of Growing Marijuana in Shipping Containers.

Finding a suitable space for growing marijuana can be a challenging task. Even in states where cannabis is legalized, there are strict regulations governing locations. Frequently growers must observe distances from schools, libraries, and parks, among other public buildings. This can make finding indoor cannabis growing space quite overwhelming and tricky.

Not only can you end up with top-grade buds, but you can also share a small facility with other hobbyists to create a private club of growers. Many growers are also considering the benefits of growing marijuana in shipping containers as part of a communal grow space.

It doesn’t matter what stage you are at on your marijuana growing journey – growing in shipping containers could be incredibly beneficial. This applies to hobbyists experimenting with upping their yield for supplying family and friends, as well as enthusiasts keen on getting in on the explosion in medicinal cannabis and CBD.

You will need to connect the shipping containers to reliable sources of water and power and then you’re ready to start growing. Even the different stages of the marijuana plants’ development are catered for so your plants are supported throughout their lifecycle from cloning, vegetation, and all the way up to flowering and curing.

If you choose the DIY route, the upfront initial investment will be much lower compared to a turnkey professional grade marijuana grow shipping container. However, you will have to do all the hard work of upgrading the commercial shipping container yourself.

Only you can judge if the increase in cost will work for your business. But it may be that simple tried and tested greenhouse growing operations might be more economically efficient than marijuana in shipping containers, especially if you are operating alone for the first time.

For this reason, with indoor cannabis grows, any weak spots in the way you manage the environment can have a big impact on yield.

Using Shipping Containers to Growing Cannabis Means Freedom.

In this article we’ll go through all the factors you need to bear in mind when choosing the kind of shipping container or set up to take your project forward.

As the industry advances, it becomes more embedded in every aspect of life. You can take cannabis industry-related degrees at university, there is a vibrant cannabis consulting industry as well as offshoot sectors in cannabis extracts and edibles. Marijuana is here to stay and set to grow. It’s not just the USA – across Europe, South Africa and Latin America the wave of decriminalization and legalization is gathering pace.

Once you pick a suitable commercial container that comes in the right size and possesses the right features you need you will need to fit it out. This means installing your preferred arrangement for crops and then ensuring you have the right grow lights, fans and/or filters. You will also make use of all the traditional indoor marijuana growing equipment such as thermometers, pH test kits, suitable growing medium, dehumidifiers and other smaller items in order to maintain a perfectly-balanced environment.