Why settle for local when you can have hyper-local? That appears to be the philosophy of Kimbal Musk, whose Square Roots initiative is seeking to bring urban farming to more consumers around the country.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Square Roots leverages a modular, scalable farming system that grows herbs and greens without the use of pesticides or GMOs. The “seed-to-sales” farm system can be used in urban areas where green space is in short supply.
Musk expanded the concept in 2019 to Grand Rapids, Mich., where it works in partnership with foodservice supplier Gordon Food Service. The new farm, which opened in September, includes 10 cloud-connected Square Roots Climate Containers that employ digitally controlled hydroponics and full-spectrum LED lighting systems. They are expected to produce more than 50,000 pounds of premium herbs and greens annually.
In addition, Square Root’s Next-Gen Farmer Training Program offers an apprentice-style development program for young people interested in this new frontier of the food supply chain.
Musk, through his partnership with fellow chef Hugo Matheson in The Kitchen Restaurant Group, has also expanded to 11 locations in Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois. Next Door shuns “industrial food” in favor of ingredients sourced from local farms.