Basil is one of the crops raised by Square Roots at its high-tech indoor farms, a number of which the company is expanding through a partnership with Grodon Food Service.
Distributor Gordon Food Service and indoor-farming company Square Roots held an Oct. 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of their new indoor farm in Michigan, part of the companies’ strategic partnership to build indoor farms across North America and enable the year-round production of local food at a global scale.
“In partnering with Square Roots, we are delivering on our ambitions to make nutritious, local produce available to everyone, throughout the year, regardless of the local climate,” said Rich Wolowski, CEO of Wyoming, Mich.-based Gordon Food Service.
Located at Gordon Food Service’s headquarters, the new farm was deployed in just three months using Square Roots’ modular smart-farm technology platform. Inside the farm, Square Roots uses its proprietary, cloud-connected software to constantly monitor and control various climates, allowing its farmers to grow a wide assortment of crops, including herbslike basil, dill, parsley and cilantro; microgreens; and salad mixes, to fulfill a range of local market needs. Approximately 50,000 plants are grown at any given time in each farm, according to the company.
“This new indoor farm in Michigan means we can grow delicious, local food, all year round, in responsible ways,” noted Tobias Peggs, co-founder and CEO of Square Roots. “We have an exciting roadmap to build additional indoor farms across the continent with Gordon Food Service, as we work to ensure that the future of food can be good for people and the planet, as well as good business.”
The company’s produce is widely available at grocery stores, including Gordon Food Service Stores, and through Gordon Food Service customer restaurants, as well as on e-commerce platforms across the Great Lakes region.
As well as its Brooklyn, N.Y., campus, Square Roots now operates two indoor farms in Michigan, with the capacity to produce more than 2.4 million packages of herbs and leafy greens annually.In addition to its farming operations, Square Roots continues to invest in the Midwest, recently opening a 5,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the region, where it now creates and assembles key components for future farms. The company has so far created more than 30 jobs in the Great Lakes region, including farm managers, growers, engineers, delivery drivers, technicians and produce packers.
Square Roots farms are built in cities to dramatically reduce food miles, resulting in ultra-high quality produce for consumers, and practically eliminating food waste in the supply chain. The company's hydroponic growing systems recirculate the water used to grow crops, allowing for the use of 95% less water than conventional farming methods. All Square Roots farms are Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified, in line with the USDA’s standards, and operate to strict COVID-19 protocols to keep farmers and the local community safe. Additionally, all Square Roots produce comes in 100% recyclable packaging.
The company’s produce is available in more than 200 retail locations around the country, including Gordon Food Service Stores, Whole Foods Market, Fresh Thyme Market, D&W Fresh Market, Meijer’s market-format stores, and southeast Michigan grocer Busch’s Fresh Food Market.
Gordon Food Service serves foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest regions of the United States, and coast to coast in Canada. The company also operates more than 175 Gordon Food Service Store locations in the United States, which are open to the public and provide restaurant-quality products without a membership fee.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, which operates 257 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin, is No. 18 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. The first certified-organic national grocer, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and is No. 26 on PG’s list, while its parent company, Seattle-based Amazon, is No. 2. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash, whose core businesses include distributing grocery products to independent and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores, and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, as well as fresh produce distribution and fresh food processing, operates 146 supermarkets and is No. 39 on The PG 100. Downers Grove, Ill.-based Fresh Thyme Market, with 70 stores in 10 states throughout the Midwest, is No. 96 on the list.