Easily accessible, farm-fresh produce is often difficult to come by, even in the city. New York is often at the mercy of the industrial food system, which produces processed, unhealthy food, and results in obesity, food deserts and environmental strain.
But fortunately, this problem has spawned plenty of smart, savvy operations that have developed ways to grow fresh food right in the city. One of them is Square Roots, whose inventive urban farms are making it easy to connect urbanites to hand-harvested herbs.
In order to grow the herbs in the middle of Brooklyn, Square Roots uses data, insights and tools to create the ideal indoor environment. The farms are constructed inside refurbished shipping containers with programmable climates, which means the herbs can be grown year-round with no need for pesticides or hormones.
“A series of climate sensors capture thousands of data points per day. Because we grow in a completely closed environment, we have full control over each climate parameter — from CO2 in the air, to the number of hours of light,” explained Square Roots Operations Manager Christa Montano. “We research the best natural climate for a certain variety of plant, recreate it inside the farm, and grow the best tasting produce, 365 days a year.”
They also help young people enter the urban farming industry with their Next Gen Farmer Training Program. The year-long program allows trainees to learn all about innovations in farming — and no experience is required to apply, just a passion for bringing real food to more people in the city. Interested individuals can also sign up for the org’s monthly farm tours and use their store locator to buy their herbs around the city.
Square Roots also recently announced a partnership with Gordon Food Service, one of the country’s leading foodservice providers, which will allow them to expand to other states.
“Our strategic partnership will see new campuses of Square Roots’ indoor farms built on or near Gordon Food Service distribution centers and retail stores across the continent,” said Montano.
More about Square Roots can be found on their website.