A vertical modular farming system could generate meaningful job opportunities while helping to solve issues such as world hunger and climate change.
That’s the idea behind FarmCube, a concept a team of Griffith undergraduate students recently took to San Francisco to represent the University at the regional finals of the 2019 Hult Prize Challenge.
The Hult Prize Challenge is an annual competition that brings together some of the world’s brightest university students and challenges them to solve pressing social issues.
“The team pitched exceptionally well and placed in the top six at the regional finals,” says Campus Director for Hult Prize at Griffith, Caitlene Hillman.
“This is a fantastic achievement.”
This year’s Griffith team—comprising Bachelor of Commerce students Timothy Mahoney and Alexander Byrne, and Bachelor of Business student Riley Thiedecke—felt FarmCube was an ideal answer to this year’s challenge: to create meaningful work for 10,000 youth within the next decade.
“However, we knew we didn’t just want to solve the issue of jobs for youth,” team captain Riley says.
“We wanted to create further impact within an area we all felt passionate about: food insecurity.”
The team says FarmCube could give people who are geographically challenged, or who haven’t had traditional access, the opportunity to access nutrient-rich produce.
“Thus, to hopefully make an impact in lessening, helping and benefiting the 815 million undernourished living in this world,” Riley says.
How it works
FarmCube integrates current vertical hydroponic technology within an insulated and climate controlled 40-foot shipping container.
The design and technology allow for optimal transportability and more efficient farming practises compared to traditional farms.
“Additionally, as a result of FarmCube’s climate-controlled system, groups can now enjoy fresh produce year-round absent of season dependencies,” Timothy says.
“However, the true solution of FarmCube lies within its business model. FarmCube creates learning-based job opportunities for youth through its entire value chain, from manufacturing all the way through to the selling of the produce.”
The team says the benefits of taking part in the Hult Prize Challenge include gaining an international perspective of global issues, as well as personal growth and development.
“This is a huge challenge, but the people you meet along way make it worth it,” Alexander says.
“You get to meet and work with other socially conscious individuals who also want to see changes within the world they live in.”
To anyone thinking about participating in the challenge next year, the team says “just go for it”.
“A passion for social change is the only prerequisite and you miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take,” Alexander says.
For more information about the challenge, see Hult Prize at Griffith.