2021 Newsmaker: Rich Wolowski

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Rich Wolowski

President, CEO

Gordon Food Service

Gordan Food Service’s partnership with an indoor farming startup took deeper root in 2021.

The grocery distributor and retailer in 2019 formed a partnership with Brooklyn, New York-based Square Roots, an urban indoor hydroponic farming and technology company, that would bring cloud-connected, year-round farming, along with next-generation farmer training, to the GFS headquarters at 1300 Gezon Pkwy. SW in Wyoming. 

A pilot farm built in 10 modular shipping containers opened in October 2019 at the GFS HQ. In December 2020, construction began on a two-story, commercial-scale indoor farm on the campus that also would be cloud-connected and managed by Square Roots’ farmers and in-house software. It is Square Roots’ third commercial farm, joining others in Brooklyn and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

By March 2021, the two-story indoor farm was completed, and in April, its first harvest was ready. In October, GFS and Square Roots held a ribbon-cutting for the farm, which can grow about 50,000 plants at a time, including herbs, microgreens and salad mixes, which are sold to restaurants, grocery stores and on e-commerce platforms across the Great Lakes region.

“In partnering with Square Roots, we are delivering on our ambitions to make nutritious, local produce available to everyone, throughout the year, regardless of the local climate,” said Rich Wolowski, CEO of Gordon Food Service.

Tobias Peggs, co-founder and CEO at Square Roots, said the farm means fresh food grown on a smaller footprint, with 95% less water use, zero food waste in the supply chain and 100% recyclable packaging.

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