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Charlotte, N.C., February 22, 2022— The concept of locally grown produce will take on new meaning when Compass Group introduces new Farmshelf indoor farms at its foodservice locations nationwide. Through a new strategic partnership with Farmshelf, a manufacturer of indoor hydroponic farms for businesses and homes, Compass Group will soon grow more produce on site that will be served to guests in higher education, K12 schools, businesses, healthcare facilities and event venues.
“Our new partnership with Farmshelf builds on the success we’ve had working with them for several years, taking what was originally found in some of the finest dining establishments in the country and making it accessible to millions of students nationwide,” said Gary Snyder, CEO, Compass Education. “Beyond the powerful educational and dining opportunities that come from harvesting produce directly from these tech-enabled farms, they further reduce our environmental footprint and support our client partner’s reduced or net zero carbon goals.”
At Compass Group locations, the implementation of Farmshelf’s bookcase-sized smart indoor farms have the potential to annually reduce up to 15,000 pounds of food waste, save 600,000 gallons of water and eliminate single-use packaging traditionally used in food transport.
“Everything we do at Farmshelf is focused on empowering people to grow the best-tasting and most nutritious food possible and there’s no better partner than Compass Group to help us spread our mission exponentially,” said Andrew Shearer, CEO of Farmshelf. “Whether it’s a young student learning how lettuce in their salad grows from seeds planted in their cafeteria farm, or a diner watching their chef snip fresh herbs moments before they eat their meal, we’re working together to make a difference at mealtime and for the environment.”
Each Farmshelf has the ability to produce hundreds of pounds of leafy-greens and herbs annually, growing two-to-three times faster and using 90 percent less water than traditional farming. Chefs at each location are able to pick from more than 30 foods to grow, including kale and arugula as well as flavorful herbs such as chives and the increasingly popular za’atar. Recommended rotation schedules keep produce and herbs growing and harvesting at all times. The farms also use smart technology that allow Compass Group chefs and foodservice operations teams to monitor crops via internal growing cameras.
Compass Group plans to bring guests in on the indoor farming experience inviting them to touch, feel, see and participate in the growing process. As an example, higher education students studying agriculture or sustainability are invited to apply for internships to be campus farmers, learning about hydroponics and operating the farms. School children are also able to watch their food grow from seed to harvest, infusing hands-on learning into both their cafeterias and curriculums.
“Our chefs and dietitians have been experimenting with new ways to create innovative plant-based menus using fresh, local produce,” said Lisa McEuen, CEO of Chartwells Higher Education. “It’s clear more and more students are looking for plant-based options because of taste preferences, health concerns, or sustainability efforts and for the past several years, Farmshelf has helped us increase our share of herbs and vegetables grown directly onsite.”
For four years, some of the world’s best chefs and operators have been growing with Farmshelf, showcasing their commitment to sustainability, the ultimate in freshness and unbelievable flavor. By partnering with chefs Jose Andres and Marcus Samuelsson, flavor and varieties have been created to delight both culinarians and their guests. The bookcase-sized smart indoor farms are powerful enough to provide pounds of fresh produce every week, growing food 2-3 times faster than conventional farming, using 90 percent less water. By enabling users to harvest just what’s needed, Farmshelf eliminates packaging and food waste, and by growing from seed in a sealed and controlled environment, Farmshelf limits points of contamination to ensure food safety.