Square Roots produces several types of herbs and lettuces at its Springfield, Ohio, indoor farm.
Square Roots’ technology platform keeps close tabs on all of the farm's watering, lighting and climate systems, as well as the production schedule for each item planted. When a farmer enters a new basil batch into the software system, for example, it churns out all of the necessary information, including when the batch will be seeded, when it’s moved to the nursery, when it’s transplanted and finally, when it’s harvested.
The software can also track which farmer completed each step of the plant’s journey, and a QR code on the finished packaging can show a customer what that looked like. The Springfield farm distributes its products throughout Ohio and western Pennsylvania, in such grocery stores as Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and numerous independent retailers.
A Collective, Sustainable Future
Square Roots has additional indoor farms in Kenosha, Wis.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Shepherdsville, Ky., and Dave Hartwig, that Springfield’s farm production manager, said that the ability to communicate with those other facilities to troubleshoot issues has been one of the keys to his farm’s success.
“As we learn, we need to document it,” Hartwig explained. “As one facility has success with something, that needs to be communicated to everybody else. It’s so nice to be able to say ‘We’re having a germination issue with our basil,’ and to have three other farms growing it in the exact same setup. That’s a support system that I’ve never had.”
In addition to sharing best practices, Square Roots’ farms are also laser-focused on sustainability. According to Hartwig, the closed-loop irrigation system at each facility uses a similar amount of water to a standard shower each day, and LED lighting results in far less energy usage. The plastic clamshell containers each product is packaged in are also fully recyclable.
Although no other facilities are currently under construction, Square Roots has an ambitious 100-year plan to have one of its urban farms in every major U.S. city. In addition to its work with Grand Rapids-based Gordon, the company has a strategic partnership with United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) to co-locate commercial-scale, climate-controlled indoor farms across the continent.