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Square Roots is on a mission to feed the world — and eventually astronauts on Mars

Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal, is on a mission to feed the world and train the next generation of farmers.

One-third of the world’s food supply is wasted, according to research from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Now a start-up called Square Roots, co-founded by Kimbal Musk (Elon Musk’s brother) and Tobias Peggs, wants to reduce that waste by growing food as close as possible to the point of use.

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Square Roots has developed and installs “modules” — hydroponic farms in reclaimed shipping containers that can grow certain non-GMO vegetables around the clock and without pesticides. Today they are producing mint, basil, other herbs and leafy greens. The company made CNBC’s 2019 Upstart 100 list, released Tuesday.

The modules, which employ software-controlled LED lighting and irrigation systems, can be set up in the parking lot of a grocery store or even inside a large warehouse or industrial building, enabling a food maker to access fresh ingredients locally for use in their dishes or packaged products.

According to CEO Peggs, raising at least some crops close to where they will be eaten helps reduce the food damage and spoilage that occurs during shipping from a point of harvest to a faraway destination.

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