The intermodal shipping container has made the world smaller, fuelled cultural and industrial globalisation, aided the build up of the Eastern manufacturing economies and fuelled the shrinkage of the West's. It symbolises both the efficiency and great extent of industrial wastage.
Like Lego bricks, they are inherently demountable; thus design possibilities are vast.
For the curious crafter looking to dip her toe into the world of, say, denim-bedazzling, the market is crowded with beginner kits: everything you need all in one adorable, unintimidating package with a sticker-shock-free price tag. Now, would-be farmers have their own kind of agricultural start-up kit.
Built out of repurposed shipping containers, the new plug-and-play mini farms are the newest means of retooling industrial waste. Sure, you could set one down beside a super-hip shipping container restaurant and have diners watch the baby kale, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers take root. But a number of companies want to think bigger: They hope these shipping container farms can democratize urban agriculture.