Square Roots projects 30% increase in leafy greens yields with new tech platform at new Kentucky farm

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Square Roots' produce is free of pesticides. sold in recycled and recyclable packaging, and has at least 14 days of shelf life. Image credit: Square Roots
Square Roots' produce is free of pesticides. sold in recycled and recyclable packaging, and has at least 14 days of shelf life. Image credit: Square Roots

Related tags indoor farming Square Roots

Vertical farming company Square Roots has tripled its growing capacity in 2022 and attributes that growth to its scalable smart-farm technology platform and demand for locally-grown food.

Square Roots​ looks for more growth to come in the next year from its new farm just opened in Shepherdsville, Ky., its third co-located indoor farm in partnership with Gordon Food Service.

Square Roots anticipates producing its first commercial harvests at the facility in spring 2023.

The firm expects to increase yields by 30% at the location thanks to its newest technology platform, which comprises automation technologies for seeding, harvesting and sanitization.

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Square Roots creates its farms in climate-controlled, converted shipping containers that take up less land and utilize a recirculating hydroponic system to save water.

“Inside the farm, the local team uses Square Roots’ proprietary software to manage every aspect of growing - from planning production tasks to monitoring plant health,” ​the firm explained in a release.

The Shepherdsville facility will harvest herbs, salad mixes and microgreens, and Square Roots projects it will produce more than 3 million herbs and leafy greens packages on an annual basis.

When harvested, those products will head to local retailers, restaurants, schools and hospitals throughout the Central Midwest region.

“By deploying a distributed network of local farms in strategic locations like Shepherdsville, Square Roots creates less distance between people across America and their food, reducing food miles and minimizing food waste,”​ according to the company.

Pesticide-free and locally grown

The produce is free of pesticides, sold in recycled and recyclable packaging and has at least 14 days of shelf life, Square Roots says.

According to co-founder and CEO Tobias Peggs, the company tripled its growing capacity in 2022 while entering new strategic markets as part of its partnership with Gordon Food Service.

“This rapid expansion is purely driven by customer demand for our locally-grown food,”​ he explained. “And it’s been enabled by our scalable smart-farm platform - which we’ve shown can be replicated in multiple new locations, quickly and cost effectively.”

Partnership model

Square Roots and Gordon Food Service, based in Michigan, first established their partnership in 2019. The companies share a goal of globally scaling their business together to more easily bring locally-grown food to customers.

In addition to the new Kentucky location, Square Roots has opened co-located farms on Gordon Food Service distribution centers in Kenosha, Wis., and Springfield, Ohio, so far this year.

“Together, Gordon Food Service and Square Roots are making locally grown, fresh produce available to our customers all year round, regardless of outdoor weather conditions,”​ says Gordon Food Service President and CEO Rich Wolowski. “Each new farm we open gets us closer to our shared goal of enabling local food at a global scale.”

Square Roots also has a strategic partnership in place with United Natural Foods Inc. to co-locate indoor farms on-site at certain UNFI distribution centers. The first, in Prescott, Wis., will be 20,000 square feet and is expected to open in 2023.

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