Indoor-farming company Square Roots and food distributor Gordon Food Service have opened their latest climate-controlled farm, in Shepherdsville, Ky.
Since establishing a strategic partnership in 2019, the two companies have rolled out several indoor farms, with the ultimate goal of bringing locally grown food to customers at a global scale. In the past year alone, Square Roots has deployed co-located farms on Gordon Food Service distribution centers in Kenosha, Wis., and Springfield, Ohio, in addition to Shepherdsville.
“Working with Gordon Food Service, we’ve tripled our aggregate growing capacity this year while entering three new strategic markets across America’s heartland,” noted Tobias Peggs, co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Square Roots. “This rapid expansion is purely driven by customer demand for our locally grown food. And it’s been enabled by our scalable smart-farm platform — which we’ve shown can be replicated in multiple new locations, quickly and cost-effectively.”
The new Shepherdsville facility showcases the latest version of the Square Roots platform, which boosts yields by 30% and features various automation technologies for key functions, among them seeding, harvesting and sanitization. Inside the farm, the local team uses Square Roots’ proprietary software to manage every aspect of the growing process, from planning production tasks to monitoring plant health. Meanwhile, all Square Roots farms are USDA Harmonized GAP+ Certified for the optimal levels of food safety.
“Together, Gordon Food Service and Square Roots are making locally grown fresh produce available to our customers all year round, regardless of outdoor weather conditions,” said Rich Wolowski, president and CEO of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Gordon Food Service. “Each new farm we open gets us closer to our shared goal of enabling local food at a global scale.”
The Shepherdsville Square Roots farm will soon be harvesting herbs, salad mixes and microgreens. The facility has been sized to produce more than 3 million packages of herbs and leafy greens annually. All Square Roots produce has at least 14 days of extended shelf life, is completely free of pesticides and GMOs, and comes in recycled and recyclable packaging.
Square Roots’ fresh produce is available in retail locations around the country. In addition to its work with Gordon, it has a strategic partnership with United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) to co-locate commercial-scale, climate-controlled indoor farms across the continent.
Gordon serves foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest regions of the United States and coast to coast in Canada. The company also operates more than 170 Gordon Food Service Store locations in the U.S.
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America