Why I’m empowering a new generation of farmers to transform America’s food system
Applications now open to be a Next-Gen Farmer at Square Roots.
We need new leaders to forge a new food system
Consumers across the world are demanding greater transparency into where and how their food is grown. Yet most people in cities are tethered to an industrial food system that ships in high calorie, low nutrient food, often from across the globe. It’s harmful to the health of the planet and its populations, and leaves us completely disconnected from the people who grow our food.
We need to act now — as urban populations keep rising and global temperatures continue to climb. The next generation has an incredible opportunity to re-envision a food system that implements responsible farming practices, leverages new technologies, works together to value everyone from the farmer to the consumer, and rebuilds the connections between people and their food.
We launched Square Roots two years ago to start playing our part in this new system.
Bringing the Farm to the City
Square Roots is an urban farming company. We grow nutritious food, year round, using indoor vertical farming systems. Our farms are non-GMO, pesticide-free, and use 90% less water than their outdoor equivalents. We continually work to improve the technology in our farms to grow more (and higher quality) food, with less resources, giving the farmer more time to expand their knowledge and get connected with local communities. Customers are often eating our food within hours of harvest — and because it’s so fresh, it tastes delicious.
Our first farm in Brooklyn is just a subway ride away from over eight million New Yorkers, making it easy for urbanites to get connected to their local farmer. We hold workshops, open community tours, and pop-up markets for foodies, tech-lovers, and passionate real food advocates. The farm is a space to connect with community and share thoughts; and at the heart of it are the farmers.
The Next-Gen Farmer Training Program
If we’re going to change the food system, we simply need more young farmers. The average age of the American farmer is 58, there are huge obstacles to start farming, and making a livable income can be challenging. We need to create more pathways for young people to launch successful careers in farming. And we need many of them to understand the nuances of urban farming business — to bring fresh, local food to ever-increasing populations in cities.
Our mission at Square Roots is to bring local, real food to people in cities by empowering a whole new generation of leaders in urban farming — because the more of us working to shape the future of food, the better.
Integral to that mission is our Next-Gen Farmer Training Program — a year-long program that puts participants at the forefront of indoor urban farming. After an initial period of hands-on training in our farms, Square Roots Next-Gen Farmers grow food year-round for customers across NYC. No previous farming experience is necessary to apply — just the passion and entrepreneurial spirit to jump in and start learning. Our intuitive farming technology and expert team combine to help participants become the best urban farmers they can be. The opportunities in front of successful graduates are endless.
Impacting People, Planet, and Profits
Next-Gen leaders in urban farming understand the importance of equally-weighted social, environmental, and financial success. We’re a young company ourselves, and we are building these measurements into every aspect of our business. Throughout the year the farmers are involved in the entire process.
Built into the second half of the program are two multi-month, project-based learning experiences. A business-focused project introduces entrepreneurial frameworks and further develops farming business knowledge; while a community-oriented project is focused on creating more pathways for even younger generations to get connected to their food. These projects are integrated into the farmer’s 40-hour work week, alongside ongoing farming responsibilities.
The Many Faces of Urban Farming
Square Roots program alumni have gone on to start their own urban farming businesses, take incredible jobs at other forward-thinking companies in urban ag, and moved into permanent positions on the Square Roots team. Our Next-Gen Farmer Training program provides unique experience and insight into the many roles for leaders in the future of food.
The Next-Gen Farmer Training Program is a year-long, full time position, based on our Brooklyn farming campus, starting November 2018. The next round of applications opens today! If you want to start making a massive impact — socially, environmentally and economically — in urban farming and the future of food, let us know right here. We can’t wait to talk with you.