Supermarket shelves are emptying, and sooner rather than later food supply will surely become an issue. At Square Roots we have a moral obligation to use the resources we have—skilled farmers and our farm-tech platform—to keep growing food, and to find ways to get that food to as many people as possible. But we obviously have to do that with the safety of people (our team and the wider community) as a priority.
To help with these dual objectives, we developed a Coronavirus Safety Framework several weeks ago, and have been running on “Level 1 Operations” for a while. Essentially, that meant extra vigilance (staying home if you’re feeling even slightly unwell, etc) on top of our existing, extremely thorough, bio-security and food safety protocols. Yesterday, we moved to “Level 2 Operations” at our Brooklyn farm.
Today, due to recommendations from the CDC, the State of Michigan, and our local partner Gordon Food Service, Square Roots will also be moving into “Level 2 Operations” at our Grand Rapids farm. "Level 2" for us means we are now running our farms with a much smaller team - any farmers or support staff not absolutely required for this Level have been asked to stay at home on full pay.
The logic behind “Level 2 Operations” is simple and sound. Fewer people in the farms means more physical space per person, which has allowed us to re-engineer our farming processes to ensure social distancing (i.e. no-one does any work within 6ft of another person). This ensures the farm is a safe place to work, and we can grow food for people who need it, even if the process is now less efficient and our capacity will be somewhat reduced.
We’ve worked rapidly with the team at Gordon Food Service this morning to confirm a new, slimmed-down production schedule to meet the needs of their customers. For now, Square Roots produce will still be distributed to local restaurants who are serving customers through takeout and delivery options, and directly to consumers through local Gordon Food Service retail stores.
Obviously, this situation is very fluid, and we are constantly assessing information to make the best decisions in line with our mission of “bringing local, real food to people in cities around the world by empowering next-gen leaders in urban farming.” If anything changes, as the full extent of the pandemic unfolds, we will do our best to provide transparency and clarity on this blog and through our social channels. But please feel free to email me directly if you have any questions or additional thoughts. ([email protected])
Square Roots CEO