To meet rapidly increasing demand for our locally-grown produce, today we’re announcing our newest indoor farm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We broke ground in late December and planted the first seeds in March—just three months later. Now we’re preparing for the first harvest, and our delicious, fresh produce will be available at grocery stores, ecommerce platforms, and restaurants across the Great Lakes region in the coming weeks.
Kimbal Musk, our Cofounder and Executive Chairman, says: “COVID-19 exposed major weaknesses in the industrial food supply chain, and accelerated the already fast-growing local farming movement. Square Roots can now deploy commercial-scale, controlled-climate farms, fast, in locations across America to meet demand for local food, all year round. My wider mission is to bring responsibly-grown, local food to everyone in America. With Square Roots, we’re going to do it fast.”
Growing Reliable, Fresh Produce Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic
While COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the industrial food system, consumers increasingly valued local food, which in turn accelerated the adoption of indoor-grown produce. Consumers, forced to stay at home and cook, were able to experience the consistent peak-season flavor of our locally-grown greens. Meanwhile, retailers appreciated the reliability, longer shelf life, and complete traceability of all Square Roots’ products. As a result, we’ve seen a big increase in retail demand this year, and we’re now available in more than 200 stores (including Fresh Thyme Market, D&W Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market, FreshDirect, and more!).
In parallel, working hand-in-hand with our strategic partner Gordon Food Service—one of the largest food distributors in North America—we’ve been supporting and supplying restaurants throughout the pandemic. We’re as excited as anyone to see diners begin to venture out once more, and the restaurant industry bounce back strong.
This new farm in Michigan, our third commercial facility, is co-located with Gordon Food Service and represents another step towards a larger shared ambition to build indoor farms together across the continent—enabling local food at a national scale.
Square Roots’ Modular Farm-Tech Platform
Central to our ability to move fast and meet demand is our modular farm-tech platform. Capital-efficient and pre-fabricated inside upcycled shipping containers, ready-to-go farms can be shipped and deployed just-in-time to any site in the world, immediately creating the perfect conditions for growing the highest quality food, regardless of local climate conditions or time of year. The overall growing capacity of any Square Roots farm can seamlessly scale up or down depending on demand in the local market.
Our new two-story farm in Michigan also includes all of the necessary infrastructure to run a state-of-the-art, food-safe and people-safe commercial operation. This includes cold storage, biosecurity, climate-controlled packaging space, distributor loading docks, and more. Meanwhile, all of our farms are Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified, in line with the USDA’s standards, and operate to strict COVID-19 safety protocols to keep farmers and the local community safe.
Our farms are also cloud-connected and managed by a combination of skilled Square Roots farmers and sophisticated in-house software. Known as The Square Roots Farmer Toolbelt, our proprietary OS provides day-to-day guidance to farmers while capturing millions of data points throughout growing cycles across our network. This data can then be analyzed to determine how changes in certain environmental parameters impact factors like yield, taste, and texture. Our system learns faster as we deploy more farms and our network gets larger, all while helping farmers determine how to grow more, better tasting food with fewer resources. Training new farmers—and empowering the next generation of leaders in indoor agriculture—has always been core to our mission, and the Farmer Toolbelt is a key enabler in our ability to offer accessible pathways for young people to enter the high-tech farming industry.
Responsibly-Grown, Local Food, Available Everywhere
We’ve always designed our farms to provide responsibly-grown food in areas close to the end consumer. Our hydroponic system uses 95% less water than conventional agriculture, our farms require zero pesticides, and the location of our facilities cuts down dramatically on food miles and food waste by enabling delivery of fresh produce within 24 hours of harvest, all year round. Meanwhile, our latest farm design is easily configured for both vertical and horizontal-stacked growing formats—a new and unique capability that means we can grow a wide range of crops to meet a variety of local market needs. To date we’ve grown over 200 different varieties of herbs, microgreens, leafy greens, fruits, and even root vegetables—and we’re just getting started!
Keep an eye on this blog for announcements about more new farms soon. For more information about Square Roots check out our website, squarerootsgrow.com. And for daily updates, follow us on social media @squarerootsgrow.