New York Company, Square Roots, Joins Expanding Industry of High-Tech Indoor Farming

Thomas MacMillan reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “In a factory parking lot in Brooklyn, a crowd of about 100 people gasped and murmured as Tobias Peggs cracked open the heavy metal doors of a white shipping container, allowing pink light to spill out from within.

“The interior of the container looked like a dance club, or a space station: Strips of dangling LED lights glowed red and blue, illuminating white plastic panels. Leafy green vegetables grew from the walls.

“Mr. Peggs, 45 years old, chief executive of a new company called Square Roots, recently was leading a farm tour of his new urban agriculture operation in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The shipping container was a vertical farm, one of the company’s 10 located in the parking lot, each capable of growing the equivalent of 2 acres of crops in a carefully controlled indoor environment, he said.”

The Journal article stated that, “Square Roots, which uses hydroponic technology to raise a variety of herbs and greens, is one of the latest companies to join the expanding industry of high-tech indoor farming. Proponents of vertical farming say it is designed to meet the increasing demand for locally grown food—fueled by distrust of large-scale industrial agriculture—at a time when more people are moving into cities.

“Square Roots, co-founded by Kimbal Musk, brother of famed inventor and businessman Elon Musk, isn’t only growing vegetables. The company is trying to cultivate a network of food entrepreneurs by operating a kind of apprenticeship program. Each of its 10 shipping-container farms is run by a different entrepreneur selected from hundreds of applicants.”

Mr. MacMillan also pointed out that, “Messrs. Musk and Peggs have a grand vision: A network of Square Roots farms in urban centers across the U.S., each supplying locally grown produce to city-dwellers, while transforming mostly young people into urban farmers and food entrepreneurs. While there is no age limit, the farmers in the first group range from 22 to 30 years old, Mr. Peggs said.”

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