“Farm to Local” launched at the end of February, and the Square Roots farmer-entrepreneurs are already running weekly deliveries to foodies who work in dozens of office locations across the city — including Vice Media, Kickstarter and Tesla.
The Square Roots farms — located in an old Pfizer factory in the middle of Brooklyn — are indoors and controlled-climate, so our farmer-entrepreneurs can grow and deliver gmo-free, spray-free, locally-grown, super-tasty food all year round in New York.
So what inspired the idea of the farmer-entrepreneurs doing direct delivery of greens?
Our mission at Square Roots is to empower the next generation to become entrepreneurial leaders in the real food revolution. Although we’re a farm, and growing a ton of tasty food, our business approach is more akin to an agile tech startup. We coach entrepreneurs to be comfortable doing things that don’t scale; to constantly push new ideas; to analyze customer feedback and data; to move fast and iterate, again and again, until they get it right. That’s what happened here.
In January, after their first harvest, the farmer-entrepreneurs experimented with a number of different distribution models. Some formed relationships with chefs, others ran farmers markets, others gave samples directly to people while they were at work. All of these have evolved and are now ongoing business models for the entrepreneurs. But listening to feedback from office workers was particularly instructive.
What the farmer-entrepreneurs heard time and time again was that a lot of people in New York wanted local food, and wanted to play their part in the “real food revolution”. But they were always at work or out with friends, and only ate at home a once or twice per week. (This matches a national trend where more dollars are now spent on dining out than grocery shopping). These people loved the idea of the classic CSA farm share box. But the reality was — with their never-at-home lifestyle — they would waste most of the food.
So the Square Roots farmer-entrepreneurs developed a handy-size grab bag of greens — and then saw that people would eat them at work “like a bag of chips” (again, a phrase they heard over and over). As a number of entrepreneurs started seeing success with variations on this model, the Square Roots core team started working alongside them to help ‘productize’ the offering — leading to the launch of “Farm To Local”.
This is a good illustration of how we see the Square Roots platform evolving in an agile manner over time, to support and empower the farmer-entrepreneurs. If several are working on similarly evolving business ideas, we can collaborate with them to standardize the approach, help with processes and technology, and turbo-charge their efforts. (This also means, as we scale, future cohorts will benefit from having a variety of proven “business models in a box” to work from.)
So that’s how the “Farm to Local” program was born — powered by the next generation of real food entrepreneurs, empowered by the Square Roots platform.
Note: because the greens are grown hyper locally (i.e. in Brooklyn), membership means same-day harvest and delivery… so when the greens arrive they are super-fresh and taste amazing. Even better, when they are delivered, you get to know your farmer — so you’re supporting local entrepreneurship as well as local food. Join us.