HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The term urban farming started being used almost 15 years ago.
Ever since, thousands of vegetable gardens have been popping up in cities across the country.
In Holyoke, it's more than just a pile of dirt. As a matter of fact, there's none at all.
Tuesday was harvest day.
"[So what is that right there?] A couple different things. [This is the harvest?] We have some Romaine, spinach. The spinach is grown to a full plant, not baby spinach. 256 of these towers in here. Full heads of lettuce, we can put 10 in each tower, but we don't want to plant the whole farm, so we plant about 50 towers," said Claire McGale.
If you were doing the math, that's at least 500 heads of lettuce per week coming from this storage container on Race Street in Holyoke and it's not just leafy greens.
"What makes me feel good is the size of our radishes," McGale added.
Right now, there are two containers. Only one is in use, but each of them can yield the equivalent to one acre of farmland.
Only this land isn't impacted by the cold.
"Seed to harvest, eight weeks. That's consistent because we control the environment in here," McGale explained.
Farm manager Alina Davledzarova added, "We don't have salmonella. We don't have to be worried about our romaine being contaminated by anything. When we're in here, our CO2 goes to the plants and they give off the oxygen, so it's kind of like its own little ecosystem in here."
So where does all this fresh, locally grown produce go once harvested? Davledzarova told Western Mass News it all depends.
"We have local restaurants, Holyoke Medical Center that comes picks up from us and we donate it to HCC. We want to donate 10 percent of our harvest," Davledzarova said.
Beyond providing food for those who need it, McGale said that working there will pay off in the long run for her too.
"If it were normal to have your own lettuce production in your apartment, this is the way we do it. [So you're getting good experience?] Excellent experience," McGale said.
Shipping container farming is in the infant stages right now, but we're told the city of Holyoke will be using it as a model for other similar projects going forward. So far, they said, so good.