This Brooklyn farm company is training a new generation of urban farmers

vegetable

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • The average age of an American farmer is 57.5 years.
  • Just under 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.
  • Square Roots is teaching young city farmers how to grow food sustainably.

Among the high-rise buildings and concrete sidewalks of Brooklyn, there’s a quiet green revolution taking place.

In old shipping containers, the shoots of a new way of urban farming are starting to emerge, which could help meet the demand of a growing urban population.

Square Roots is an indoor urban farming company, which not only grows food sustainably without soil, but is teaching a new generation of farmers how to do it too.

“We realized there were tens of thousands of young people who were as passionate about changing the food system as we were, but just didn’t know how to get started,” says Tobias Peggs, CEO of Square Roots.

Feeding the future

Square Roots is tackling several issues in one go: the need to use less water and other resources in agriculture, the ageing of farmers, the global population rise and, in particular, the growing urban population.

Farmers in the US aren’t getting any younger, with an average age at 57.5, according to census data, up 1.2 years from 2012.

urban farms agrilculture Netflix New York
A new way of farming.
Image: WWF/Netflix

And it’s a similar story in other places around the world. In Kenya, the average farmer is 60. In Japan, 67.

By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, so that’s where much of the focus of food growing will need to be.

“Younger generations are really interested in making sure we’re all eating healthy food that’s nutritious and grown in sustainable ways, but they’re less interested in living in the middle of the country,” says Peggs.

The future of farming

The Next-Gen Farmer Training Program teaches would-be farmers how to grow leafy greens in a high-tech hydroponic system that it says uses up to 95% less water than traditional farms.

They study plant science, to find out what’s happening at a molecular level as the plant grows, they learn about the business side and engage with the local community and agriculture ecosystems.

Food

What is the World Economic Forum doing to help ensure global food security?

Two billion people in the world currently suffer from malnutrition and according to some estimates, we need 60% more food to feed the global population by 2050. Yet the agricultural sector is ill-equipped to meet this demand: 700 million of its workers currently live in poverty, and it is already responsible for 70% of the world’s water consumption and 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

New technologies could help our food systems become more sustainable and efficient, but unfortunately the agricultural sector has fallen behind other sectors in terms of technology adoption.

Launched in 2018, the Forum’s Innovation with a Purpose Platform is a large-scale partnership that facilitates the adoption of new technologies and other innovations to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume our food.

With research, increasing investments in new agriculture technologies and the integration of local and regional initiatives aimed at enhancing food security, the platform is working with over 50 partner institutions and 1,000 leaders around the world to leverage emerging technologies to make our food systems more sustainable, inclusive and efficient.

Learn more about Innovation with a Purpose’s impact and contact us to see how you can get involved.

Each shipping container at the company’s campus in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighbourhood can produce up to 45kg of fresh basil, chive or mint leaves per week, which is grown without pesticides, and uses data to optimize flavour and nutrition.

“Successful companies in the 21st century have to be doing well – and doing good at the same time,” says Peggs.

“We’re growing food and selling food, that’s how we make money. But we’re doing that in a sustainable way, which is better for the planet and we’re empowering the next generation of leaders in urban farming.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

6 ways to drive funding to transform the fashion industry

These European countries produce the most plastic waste per person

The vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion spreads fast engulfing more children

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

COVID-19: EU must step up efforts to tackle medicine shortages

5 myths about face masks under the microscope

These German businesses are hiring refugees to plug the skills gap

Getting people with disabilities into work requires data

Myanmar willing to repatriate ‘verified returnees’ from Bangladesh

Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

Mass-graves found of at least 535 killed during ‘organized and planned’ inter-communal attacks in western DR Congo

Three-quarters of South Sudanese children have known nothing but war, says UNICEF

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

EU prepares a banking union amidst financial ruins

Water scarcity is a growing problem across the Middle East. Is this how we solve it?

Τhe EU Refugee Crisis: a day in the life of a Refugee in Greece

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

‘Eden bonds’: how rewilding could save the climate and your pension

What is true and not true about the new Coronavirus?

Refund for cancelled travel during the pandemic: Commission decides to refer SLOVAKIA to the Court of Justice

“China is the only BRICS country to have either met or possibly slightly surpassed my expectations”, BRICS inventor Jim O’ Neil from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

A fundamental transport transformation: Commission presents its plan for green, smart and affordable mobility

Commission welcomes entry into force of EU4Health programme

A Californian city gave people $500 a month – no strings attached. Here’s what happened

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Europe is progressing most towards these UN Sustainability Goals: A report card for Europe

The EU’s outermost regions: strengthened partnership bears fruit

This is how smart technology is helping to combat overfishing

Council’s position on Visa Directive a step back for young people’s mobility

Judges urge Security Council to serve interests of all UN Member States

Questions directors need to ask in the age of stakeholder capitalism

How can emerging economies navigate the mobility transition?

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

Financial system risk is elevated and global standards are essential in managing cross-border infrastructure investment

Human rights breaches in Azerbaijan and Sudan

Actions not words: what was promised at the UN’s landmark climate summit?

These are the countries that eat the most meat

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

EU elections update: Can the EU voters vote unaffected from fake news and online disinformation?

How smarter machines can make us smarter humans

Coronavirus: new procedure to facilitate and speed up approval of adapted vaccines against COVID-19 variants

The Czech economy is thriving but boosting skills and productivity and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model is vital to sustainable and inclusive growth

At global health forum, UN officials call for strong, people-focused health systems

The West cannot ignore Russia; dazed Germany sitting on the fence

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive

This is the human impact of COVID-19 – and how business can help

The UN went to one of the world’s richest countries to look at poverty – this is what it found

What can we do about the crisis in trust in public institutions?

Berlin Calling: DCX Expo on track to grow, in association with The European Sting

Policymakers can ensure the 4IR is fairer than the last three

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

4 solutions for reducing emissions from industrial clusters

From Prince to Picasso, the arts can be just the tonic, new UN health agency study shows

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] This Brooklyn farm company is training a new generation of urban farmers  The European Sting […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s