Ballard Spahr represented urban agriculture firm Square Roots in establishing a strategic partnership with Gordon Food Service, one of North America's leading food service providers. The partnership deal, which closed earlier in March, will bring Square Roots' pioneering technology for growing fresh, local produce to customers of Gordon Food Service, which has distribution operations and 175 retail locations throughout the United States.

Square Roots will use its vertical agriculture technology—edible plants grown in wall-like sheets inside repurposed shipping containers—to grow produce near Gordon Food Service locations, helping position the company to take advantage of the surging consumer appetite for locally grown food. USDA research has shown that consumers, particularly Millennials, are keenly interested in food grown near its point of consumption because they believe it is healthier and better for the environment. Consumers are also eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and eschewing canned and frozen options.

Partnering with Gordon Food Service will enable Square Roots to further innovative programs such as its Next Gen Farmer Training Program—an important initiative in a society where the average age of a farmer is 58. Gordon Food Service will also tap Square Roots' Transparency Timeline program, a unique QR code-enabled technology that allows customers to trace how and where their food was grown and who grew it.

The Ballard Spahr team was led by Senior Counsel Steven Dupont. It included Partner Nathan E. Seiler and Associate Andrew Spruiell. All three work in Ballard Spahr's Boulder office and are members of the Business and Finance Department.