'Square Roots' Grows Fresh Greens In Brooklyn's Retired Shipping Containers

<p>Receiving fresh greens and herbs every week is now a reality if you work in a Brooklyn office. A new startup is giving select workers 12 months to grow an over 300-square foot garden in old steel shipping containers.</p>


May 26 2019, Updated 4:05 p.m. ET

Large steel shipping containers are getting some extra use by a startup in Brooklyn. Square Roots has selected 10 people to be urban farmers, setting up a service for their neighborhood to sell freshly grown vegetables. It provides a solid job, while also getting some use out of the old steel containers.

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10 different urban farmers have their specialties they grow inside of containers that span over 300 square feet. All the green options available include Genovese basil, Tuscan kale, Astro arugula, and much more. None of the crops are genetically modified and there are no pesticides used.

Consumers that live or work in the Brooklyn area can order a bag of greens on Square Roots’ home page. The company uses a subscription process that charges each week. There are three different levels consumers can choose from: Nanobite, Megabite, and Terabite. The first gives one fresh package of vegetables for $7, the second offers three bags for $15, and the best value is the seven-bag option for $35. Farmers can make anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 for the year-long run.

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Customers can choose a specific day in the ordering process for the food delivery. Various greens and herbs are picked from the over 40 options available from the farmers. However, customers that want specific greens have to contact their local distributor in order to make it work. As a close-knit network, they can usually reach out to farmers that grow a specific crop. 

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There’s also flexibility available for subscribers. A week can be skipped as long as the local farmer is notified 48 hours in advance. For those that no longer want to get fresh greens, they can unsubscribe six days in advance, hassle-free.

Operating expenses are fairly cheap for the 10 workers. Rent and utilities check in at $1,500 per month, which is not bad considering the square feet, how tough it is to have that size of property in a big city, and how much they can make. These workers will operate their gardens for 12 months, and most of them took just a week to set things up and start growing.

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Square Roots was founded by Tobias Peggs and Kimbal Musk, who is the brother of Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk. Kimbal also cofounded The Kitchen Community, which creates outdoor garden classrooms for hands-on learning. Over 262 gardens have been installed in the last six years, and studies show that students are 23 percent more likely to eat vegetables thanks to the program.

Peggs told Melissa Fares of Reuters that the year-long process provides a great method for people that want to get their Master’s degree. It’s also similar to a paid internship opportunity, as he explains it is an " alternative path would be doing an MBA in food management, probably costing them tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars," adding that he hopes farmers start companies of their own after they graduate from the program.


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