Agricool converts shipping containers into precise climate-controlled urban farms – fittingly named ‘Cooltainers’. They use aeroponic farming methods to produce fresh strawberries in urban centres with minimal environmental footprint.

‘Cooltainers’, developed by Agricool, are retrofitted shipping containers used to grow fresh strawberries in Paris. The containers are designed to form a closed environment, whereby conditions such as temperature, light, and humidity can be precisely controlled, and they’re powered by renewable energy. Using aeroponic farming practices, whereby plants are grown vertically and without any soil and surrounded by a nutrient-rich mist. Agricool estimates that their system is 120 times more productive than that of production fields/traditional agriculture.

Opposite the plants lies a wall of LED lights that mimic the light spectrum naturally provided by the sun, creating consistent growth conditions that are not influenced by weather patterns. The closed system means that no water or nutrients can escape, and as a result Cooltainers consume 90% less water and nutrients than conventional farming practices. In addition, an isolated growing environment prevents contamination by pests or diseases, and therefore eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides.

Cooltainers can be installed in a number of urban environments, with the aim of bringing the producer and consumer closer together – Agricool aims for the distance from farm to fork to never exceed 20 kilometers. To date, four Cooltainers have been installed around Paris – but there’s more to come. After successfully raising $28 million to expand their project, they have plans to install over 100 Cooltainers across France and Dubai, where they also have one container already.

Why you should care

The challenges plaguing our food system are numerous: growing populations, rapid urbanisation, land degradation and a changing climate are making it increasingly difficult to grow sustainable, nutritious food. Smart urban farming methods like those used in Cooltainers have the potential to cut food miles from transportation and reconnect consumers and producers. But what’s more, Cooltainers deliver local food with drastically lower energy and water consumption and without the use of chemicals.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Affordable and clean energy

Agricool is part of a growing movement of urban farming startups working towards more resilient, productive, and diversified small-scale agricultural systems in and around cities.

Responsible consumption and production

Cooltainers are highly resource efficient, requiring less water than conventional practices and operate using renewable energy. Reducing the distance from farm to table can also decrease food waste.