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Square Roots and Gordon Food Service to Open Indoor Farm in Michigan

Square Roots | 03.26.19

First urban farming campus from strategic partnership will grow local food, all year round, in key Midwest market, while training future farmers.

Gordon Food Service and Square Roots combined logo

On March 6th, 2019, Square Roots and Gordon Food Service announced a major strategic partnership to grow local real food across the continent.

Earlier this month, Square Roots and Gordon Food Service announced a major strategic partnership to grow local food for people in cities all across North America.

This was a big endorsement of Square Roots’ scalable “farmer-first” technology platform — which brings delicious, healthy food to urban areas, all year round, while simultaneously training future generations of farmers.

Our partnership with Gordon Food Service — one of the country’s leading foodservice providers, with distribution operations spanning North America as well as 175 retail locations across the US — will see new campuses of Square Roots’ indoor farms built on or near Gordon Food Service distribution centers and retail stores across the continent.

The Michigan farming campus marks the first expansion for Square Roots outside its New York City home market. It will occupy less than two acres of the Gordon Food Service HQ’s fifty-acre site in Wyoming, Michigan, include ten modular, hydroponic farms, and initially grow 50,000 lbs of non-GMO, pesticide-free herbs and leafy greens per year.

This partnership with Gordon Food Service also marks the first significant deployment of our own proprietary cloud-connected, modular, indoor farm design, which utilizes a water-efficient hydroponic growing system along with vertical growing walls — requiring significantly less water and space than outdoor farms.

Thanks to the unique design of our technology platform, Square Roots farming campuses can scale rapidly and cost-effectively in any location to meet growing customer demand. And as our network of distributed farms gets larger, it also gets smarter: more connected farms means more feedback loops, which increases our rate of learning dramatically. Ultimately this means we can develop optimum growing recipes for more and more types of foods — strawberries and tomatoes, for example, in addition to the delicious herbs and greens we currently specialize in.

Square Roots Farmers Jacque Kirila and Micah Helle harvesting sage.

Square Roots indoor farms will be built on or near GFS distribution centers and retail stores across North America. The first will be located at their HQ in Michigan.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely familiar with Square Roots and our mission: we’re here to bring local, real food to people in cities — by empowering the next generation of leaders in the food system through our unique Next-Gen Farmer Training Program. The program is a paid, full-time, year-long commitment that puts participants at the forefront of the indoor urban farming industry while they are growing food as part of the Square Roots farm team. We’re thrilled to be recruiting a new cohort of farmers for the Michigan farm campus.

During the year at Square Roots, farmers are surrounded with data, insights, and tools — via our scalable “farmer-first” technology platform — so they can grow local, real food, all year round. Throughout the year, they’re also educated on plant science, food entrepreneurship frameworks, and engaging local communities — preparing them for successful subsequent leadership roles in urban agriculture. No previous farming experience is necessary to apply — just the passion and entrepreneurial spirit to jump in and start learning. The recruitment process will start in early summer, and the program will begin in the fall.

Interested applicants can find out more about the program on our website, and sign up for early access to applications.

Participants in Square Roots’ Next-Gen Farmer Training Program.

Participants in Square Roots’ Next-Gen Farmer Training Program.

Past participants have gone on to start their own urban farming businesses, take incredible jobs at other forward-thinking companies in agriculture, and moved into permanent positions on the Square Roots team. Our Next-Gen Farmer Training program provides a unique experience and insight into the many roles for leaders in the future of food.

Rich Wolowski, North American President and CEO of Gordon Food Service, noted, “This partnership brings together technology, agriculture, young farmers, and scalability, in a model that could revolutionize our food systems. And it’s wonderful to be starting in our own backyard.”

The team at Square Roots couldn’t be happier to be working alongside such a mission-aligned partner in Gordon Food Service to make it all happen.

Construction and installation of the first indoor farm campus is expected to be completed by the fall of 2019, with growing operations beginning immediately thereafter. This first deployment within the Gordon Food Service distribution network will work as a template for future farms, with plans to develop additional farms at or near Gordon Food Service’s U.S. and Canadian distribution centers. This partnership reflects a shared vision and commitment by both organizations to invest in a modern, unique offering to meet growing customer demand for local food across North America.

More information about Square Roots can be found on the company’s website.

For more information, please read the official joint Press Release here.

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