Gordon Food Service, one of North America’s largest food distributors, and Kimball Musk’s indoor farming company Square Roots have officially launched one of the latter’s vertical farms onsite at the Gordon headquarters in Wyoming, Michigan.
The announcement, which the two companies made yesterday, follows news from March that Gordon and Square Roots were working together. The aim of the partnership is to build Square Roots Farms at or near Gordon distribution centers across North America. Food grown on the vertical farms will be available to Gordon’s corporate clients as well as individuals who buy from the company’s e-commerce store.
Square Roots farms, which are built inside shipping containers, pack a lot of produce into a very small amount of real estate. Case in point: the new farm at the Gordon HQ will take up less than two acres and is projected to produce more than 50,000 pounds of herbs and greens each year. Square Roots does this by growing plants vertically on panels and using a recipe of LED lighting and hydroponics controlled via software. As with many vertical farms, there’s no soil involved in the process.
“As our network of farms gets larger, it also gets smarter. Cloud-connected farms and data-empowered farmers learn from each other, enabling Square Roots to replicate success from one location to another, seamlessly,” Square Roots wrote in a recent blog post.
The partnership with Gordon also allows Square Roots to expand its Next-Gen Farmer Training Program, a one-year, all-paid entrepreneurial-meets-agricultural program that teaches younger adults both the tech and agricultural aspects of indoor vertical farming, with heavy emphasis on the former. As Square Roots opens more farming locations at Gordon distribution centers across the continent, it will be able to enlist more farmers to the program to man those locations. The number of new farmers varies based on the size of each location. Gordon, meanwhile, operates 175 distribution centers across North America.
So far, the farm at headquarters is the only one announced for Gordon, though more are planned for the future.