Located in the up streets of Brooklyn, New York, in the old Pfizer factory, Kimbal Musk is revolutionizing urban farming in an ingenious way. Musk co-founded ‘Square Roots’ in 2016, and is introducing the form of farming in shipping containers. These containers raise crops in a climate-controlled atmosphere while simulating sun rays using LED lighting, and utilizing nutrient-laced water solution to replace soil. The goal Square Roots claims to pursue is the empowerment of entrepreneurship towards producing natural, real food. One previous entrepreneur for the company, said, “ it’s like an automated robot,” when describing the incubator container.
So far, Square Roots urban farming seems more beneficial for the planet and community than industrial farming. Urban farming requires less water consumption while leaving less carbon footprint impact. There is no need to ship vegetables across the country any longer with available crates in your state; fifty pounds of produce each week only requires eight gallons of water per day. Another benefit this new urban farming technique brings is locally sourced, non-processed, non-GMO, spray-free food served during any season. The best part for consumers: these crops can last up to three weeks in the fridge. “I don’t enjoy the industrial food system. It’s definitely not good for America or the world,” Musk said during an interview with USA Today. “We’re very excited to teach America about real food.”
Square Roots has received over $5.4 million for seed funding, and in hopes to branch out into other cities. The plan for Square Roots is to set up plots, the size of two football fields, in cities across the country. In New York City alone, Square Roots farmers are delivering produce directly to more than 80 offices and supplying greens for a number of local restaurants. This service is provided through a weekly membership available on Square roots website: www.squarerootsgrow.com
Dan Barber, well-known local and sustainable eating advocate, has concerns for Musk’s plan of compartment-based food. He believes organizations for nonprofit farmer training programs will be threatened. Less funding will be a threat and as a result the lack of evolution for other agricultural options. Barber also worries these incubator-raised crops will be less palatable with low-nutrient content. Musk stated,”By 2050, there’ll be 9.6 billion people on the planet and 70% of them in urban areas. That’s driving a lot of investment and interest in urban farming. Our thinking was if we start in New York and we can figure out solutions … then we’ll be able to roll out those solutions to the world,”. Musk plans to open ‘50 Next Door Eateries’, a restaurant company co-founded by Musk, in the U.S by 2020.
In 2016, Square Roots received around 500 applications; By 2017, the number of applications sent doubled to 1,100. Today, 1,500 people have applied.“We need the next generation to demand real food,” Musk said during a TED Talk presentation. Musk’s goal for Square Roots is to reach out to younger generations whom have an interest in farming, and most of these aspiring farmers live in cities. Musk wants to bring the farm to the cities. In the process, eliminate the industrial food system.
Sources / Reference:
Real Food for Everyone | Kimbal Musk | TEDxChicago
Photo Credit: Edilble Manhattan