Pandemic cooking trend fuels Square Roots’ expansion in W. MI

Kent County

A photo provided by Square Roots shows the new two-story shipping container farm behind Gordon Food Services’ headquarters, on 60th Street in Wyoming.

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — An urban farming concept spearheaded in part by Elon Musk’s brother is expanding in West Michigan.

Square Roots will celebrate its first harvest from its new two-story shipping container farm behind Gordon Food Service’s headquarters in Wyoming on Wednesday.

Square Roots set up shop in West Michigan in September 2019. The upgraded commercial facility is the company’s third in the nation.

(A Sept. 30, 2019 photo provided by Square Roots shows Kimbal Musk nd GFS leaders cutting the ribbon on Square Roots’ Michigan farm campus.)

Crews broke ground on the new farm in late December and planted the first seeds last month. Built from repurposed shipping containers, the larger facility now has distributor loading docks and more cold storage, biosecurity and packaging space.

(Photos provided by Square Roots shows how the two-story farm went from demolition to construction and cultivation within four months.)

Square Roots expects the upgrades to expand its growing capacity by 250%, allowing the company to churn out up to 100,000 clamshells of basil, herbs and microgreens each month.

The company co-founded by Kimbal Musk says trends during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to higher demand for the “consistent peak season flavor” of its herbs, greens and produce, which farmers cultivate in carefully controlled conditions using an app on their smartphone. With many people forced to stay home and restaurants facing dining restrictions, more consumers shifted to cooking their own meals with a focus on locally grown ingredients, Square Roots says.

(A February 2020 photo shows basil growing on the walls of a shipping container turned vertical garden at Square Roots in Wyoming.)

Square Roots says its products have also expanded beyond the store shelves of its partner, GFS, and are now sold in more than 200 retail locations, including Fresh Thyme Market, Horrocks, D&W Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market and FreshDirect.

(A Feb. 2020 image shows Square Roots basil, pictured right, for sale at a Gordon Food Service store in Grand Rapids.)

Square Roots says it’s still working with GFS to supply restaurants with fresh ingredients as well.

Kimbal Musk says his goal is to provide local, sustainably grown food to places across the country where fresh greens, herbs and produce aren’t available. Square Roots says it follows strict COVID-19 procedures. Each container of herbs and greens contains a QR code that can be traced back to each person in the growing process.

Square Roots is also hiring. Those interested in applying should visit the company website at https://squarerootsgrow.com/apply/.

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