Gordon Food Service, North America’s largest privately held and family-managed foodservice distributor, and Square Roots, the technology leader in urban indoor farming, today celebrated the opening of their strategic partnership’s first co-located farm at a ribbon-cutting event on the campus of Gordon Food Service’s headquarters in Wyoming, Michigan. In addition to executives and staff from both companies, guests included customers and local, state, and federal government officials. Attendees learned more about the facility, the first of its kind hosted by a broadline foodservice distributor, including a tour of the indoor farm’s operations.
In his remarks, Rich Wolowski, President and CEO, Gordon Food Service said, “We’re building exciting relationships with change agents that are helping to reshape how food is produced, prepared, and served – and Square Roots is a great example of leading-edge thinking and technology driving new solutions. We know it’s imperative that we participate in the future, today, to ensure we are relevant tomorrow, and this is a model that could help revolutionize our food systems. And it’s great that we can prove the concept in our own backyard.”
The modular indoor farm, sited on less than two acres of the Gordon Food Service headquarters property, was almost immediately in production following construction completion earlier this month. The ten cloud-connected growing units, employing sophisticated, digitally-controlled hydroponics and LED lighting systems, are projected to produce more than 50,000 lbs. of premium herbs and greens annually, or roughly the equivalent production of a traditional 50-acre farm. However, unlike more typical agriculture, the Square Roots produce will be non-GMO, pesticide-free, and harvested all year long. Initial crops will include basil, chives, and mint. The herbs will be sold to local foodservice customers in Grand Rapids as well as throughout Michigan, northern Indiana, and Ohio.
The companies noted that this first farm installation serves as a template, with ambitions to see additional indoor farms on or near Gordon Food Service’s more than two dozen distribution centers across Canada and the eastern U.S.
Tobias Peggs, Square Roots Co-founder and CEO, noted, “This partnership reflects our shared commitment to local, real food and at a scale that will serve people and communities across North America. But it’s also Square Roots’ mission to empower the next generation of leaders in urban farming. Through our Next-Gen Farmer Training Program, we train future farmers in all aspects of local food systems—from seed to shelf. And with each new Square Roots farm, the Next-Gen Farmer Training Program opens doors for more young people to start exciting careers in the agriculture industry.”
The new farm is tended by a cohort of Next-Gen Farmers selected by Square Roots as part of their unique Next-Gen Farmer Training Program. The paid, full-time and year-long commitment has attracted thousands of diverse applicants eager to be change-makers at the forefront of urban agriculture and contributing to the local, real food movement. Half of the Michigan team hails from in-state while others come from as far away as Texas and New York.
Rich Wolowski, North American President and CEO of Gordon Food Service, stated, “We are excited to be the first broadline foodservice distributor to host an urban farm, with the ability to bring fresh, hyper-local produce to our customers year-round. It’s an important example of our pursuit of innovation to better serve our foodservice customers, and our customers’ customers, while answering the growing demand for fresh, nutritious and local food.”
About Gordon Food Service
Since 1897, we have delivered uncompromising quality and heartfelt service for our customers. We began as a simple butter-and-egg delivery service, and have grown to become the largest family business in the foodservice industry by upholding the same approach for over 120 years—remaining passionately committed to the people we serve. Today we serve foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the United States and coast-to-coast in Canada. We also operate more than 175 Gordon Food Service Store locations in the U.S., which are open to the public and provide restaurant-quality products and friendly, knowledgeable service without a membership fee. By partnering with organizations from across industries—healthcare to education, independent and chain restaurants, and event planners—we help our customers create food experiences that people choose, enjoy and remember.
About Square Roots
Square Roots is the technology leader in urban indoor farming. Its scalable “farmer first” technology platform brings fresh, healthy food to urban areas year-round, while simultaneously training future generations of farmers. Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneurs Tobias Peggs and Kimbal Musk, Square Roots has a mission to bring local, real food to people in cities across the world while empowering the next generation of leaders in urban farming.
Central to the Square Roots mission is a “Next-Gen Farmer Training Program”—a year-long program that puts participants at the forefront of the indoor urban farming industry while they are growing food as part of the Square Roots farm team. Using a unique and scalable technology platform, these young farmers are armed with intuitive tools, enabling them to quickly learn how to grow food that is delicious, responsible, healthy, and profitable. During their year at Square Roots, they’re also educated on plant science, food entrepreneurship frameworks, and engaging local communities—preparing them for successful subsequent leadership roles in urban agriculture. To learn more about Square Roots visit squarerootsgrow.com.