Marcus Carpenter, Rural Hennepin Co. Welcomes Minnesota’s First

Minnesota Welcomes State’s First Black-Owned Freight Farm, Tackling Food Insecurity And Agricultural Inequities

The Black-owned Freight Farm is led by farmer Marcus Carpenter in Hennepin County.

In an effort to address food insecurity and inequities in agriculture, rural Hennepin County in Minnesota is welcoming the state’s first Black-owned Freight Farm on March 27, a modern solution to growing produce in confined spaces, according to KARE11.

Freight Farms is a Boston-based agriculture technology company and was the first to manufacture and sell “container farms,” or hydroponic farming systems that fit inside freight containers.

Led by farmer Marcus Carpenter and his organization, Route 1, the arrival of the Minnesota Freight Farm signals a significant milestone in the fight against hunger and disparities in food access. “Today is an exciting day,” remarked Carpenter as a semi-truck completed its journey from Massachusetts to Medina in rural Hennepin County. “We are getting our very first Freight Farm. The crane’s going to take the freight farm off the back of the truck.”

Freight Farms, based in Boston, supplies farmers worldwide with repurposed shipping containers, allowing them to grow food efficiently within a controlled environment. For Carpenter and Route 1, this innovative approach not only yields fresh produce but also provides opportunities for youth engagement and education.

“Not only does this freight farm give us the ability to grow over 200 pounds of fresh produce per week, but it also gives us the ability to bring in youth who may have not had an opportunity to experience agriculture,” Carpenter explained.

Route 1’s commitment extends beyond farming; their MN Seeds to Success Youth Academy offers hands-on agricultural and leadership education, addressing systemic barriers that have historically limited Black participation in farming.

The significance of this endeavor is underscored by the broader context of agricultural inequities. Carpenter highlights the historical denial of government support to Black farmers, contributing to underrepresentation in the agricultural sector and exacerbating food insecurity in Black communities.

“The modern method of freight farming is meant to change that,” Carpenter emphasized. “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.”

With support from American Family Insurance’s social impact initiative, Route 1’s freight farm represents a step towards closing equity gaps and promoting sustainable community development.

Nyra Jordan, social impact investment director for AmFam Institute, emphasized the importance of Route 1’s multigenerational approach to farming and its potential to foster positive change in Minnesota. “We have concerns around hunger in America,” Jordan told the Daily Yonder. “But at this local level, and the work that Route 1 is doing, there is a solution… We feel by supporting markets and Route 1, it’s an innovative business model that will equip farmers with the land and resources that every one needs for a thriving farming operation. And so we’re hoping that we can support economic opportunities and tackle hunger.”

RELATED CONTENT: Local Lands, A Black-Owned Farm, Widens Reach For Georgia Residents To Combat Food Deserts