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Agriculture

Vertical Roots forges partnership with Southeast distributors

Agriculture
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Vertical Roots grows lettuce in recycled shipping containers, allowing the company to compartmentalize each farm. The Charleston-headquartered company is expanding to the Atlanta area. (Photo/Provided)A Charleston-based hydroponics company has expanded to Atlanta as part of a growth plan that puts the company’s container farms near food distributors.

Vertical Roots, which is an indoor, hydroponic container farm company that can grow leafy greens regardless of season, previously had two farming locations, in Charleston and Columbia.

The Atlanta operation places Vertical Roots adjacent to two of the largest produce distributors in the Southeast, the company said in a news release.

Vertical Roots said the Atlanta operation also includes a partnership with Collins Brothers Produce and Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice. The Atlanta indoor farm also situates Vertical Roots on location at the distributor facilities at the Atlanta State Farmers Market.

“The new Atlanta farm site will eliminate the need for produce transportation to the distributor and allow Vertical Roots lettuce to be delivered to local customers the same day it’s harvested,” the company said in a statement.

Vertical Roots said the farmers market location is the first part of an expansion into the Atlanta market.

“A large part of our mission is to grow food as close to the point of consumption as possible, and this farm-site accomplishes just that,” said Andrew Hare, co-founder and general manager of Vertical Roots in a statement. “The Collins family are esteemed produce industry leaders for three generations, and we’re ecstatic about the unique grower-supplier partnership that we’ve cultivated.”

Vertical Roots plans to have a Georgia Grown lettuce product in stores this month. The company said that by giving consumers the opportunity to purchase produce within three days of being harvested allows the lettuce to have a 21-day shelf life.

The company said farming at distribution hubs is part of Vertical Roots' business model as a strategy to reduce transportation lag time and costs along with environmental impacts.

David Collins, president of Collins Brothers and Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice said Vertical Roots had an innovative model that mirrored his companies' approach to quality.

“We're thrilled to partner with Vertical Roots as they bring an innovative way of farming to the agriculture industry,” Collins said in a statement. “We look forward to this relationship as we share a like-minded mission in providing our customers with high quality, fresh, local produce.”

Vertical Roots manufactures indoor farms from shipping containers at the company's headquarters on Clements Ferry Road in Charleston. The company delivered the Atlanta farms in early June with planting starting within a few weeks.

The company said each 320-square-foot shipping container farm will produce 500,000 heads of lettuce a year. The company can harvest up to 17 plantings per farm, per year with 3,400 plants per harvest.

Vertical Roots does no use pesticides of any kind and do not us soil to grow produce. The company said the farms use 95% less water and can grow crops 25% faster than typical farms.

The company’s products are available in 12 states across the Southeast, including grocery stores, restaurants, schools and other food service businesses and organizations.

Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.

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