Innovative Urban Farming Initiative: The Central Market Case Study

Our Central Market case study takes a close look at our successful collaboration. In 2016, the Growtainer team at the Texas A&M Agrilife Research Center in Dallas embarked on a pioneering project with one of Texas’ leading grocery retailers. Intrigued by the potential of Growtainers®—vertical farms within 40′ shipping containers—this major retailer sought to explore the forefront of agricultural technology. This initiative marked the commencement of a series of strategic discussions aimed at reimagining fresh produce sourcing.

The retailer in question, H.E.B., is a dominant force in the Texas market, operating over 350 supermarkets, including the upscale Central Market division. Their ambition was to cultivate a “store grown” concept, situating Growtainers® in Central Market locations to supply freshly harvested produce directly to consumers. This approach represented a significant departure from traditional supply chains, promising unparalleled freshness and sustainability.

The project presented unique challenges, necessitating the design of bespoke Growtainers® that exceeded the standard specifications. Central Market’s requirements included oversized containers with distinct utility and production zones, adherence to stringent food safety standards, and comprehensive pre- and post-harvest processes. The collaboration focused on reconciling the retailer’s priorities—cost-effectiveness, food safety, product variety, labor, and packaging—with our expertise in container design, automation, energy efficiency, and yield optimization.

After extensive planning and coordination, Dallas and Houston were selected for the pilot “store grown” projects. The innovative solution involved 53′ insulated Growtainers®, combining a modified 13′ unit with a standard 40′ container, equipped with mobile infrastructure, exterior drainage systems, and energy provisions to ensure flexibility and efficiency. Positioned near loading docks and accessible via custom-built ramps, these units were designed for seamless integration into the store’s operations.

Equipped with our proprietary Growrack system, automated irrigation, fertigation systems, energy-efficient LED lighting, and climate control technology, these Growtainers® represented the epitome of modern urban farming. Upon delivery to Central Market locations in Dallas and Houston, we facilitated expert-led training sessions for the staff, focusing on hydroponics and leafy greens production. This initiative not only marked a significant milestone for in-store fresh produce offerings but also set a precedent for sustainability and innovation in the retail sector, allowing customers to enjoy produce that was harvested just minutes before.

News & Media

Discover the latest updates and innovations in Growtainers. Stay informed on exciting news and valuable insights that shape the future of controlled-environment agriculture.

H-E-B-Owned Central Market Partners with CEA Advisors and Growtainer® for Store Grown Initiative

After more than a year of planning between Central Market’s Produce Marketing team and CEA Advisors, the two companies have announced the completing of the first custom built onsite production Growtainer®…

Growtainers Expands with Central Market, Looks to New Crops

For just about a year now, Central Market in Dallas has tested out offering produce that was grown on-site in a Growtainer. Evidently, that partnership has gone so well that Central Market is making…

US: Food retailer starts with on site production in Growtainer

In 2016 we saw the successful Growtainer launch in the UK and the expansion of their European presence at a Spanish biotechnological giant. CEA Advisors & Growtainers® promises even more…