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THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM LAUNCHES FARM-TO-AQUARIUM PARTNERSHIP Le Roots Premium Urban Farm is supplying high-quality local produce for the Aquarium’s animals.

November 22, 2023
The Florida Aquarium


TAMPA, FL (November 22, 2023)—The Florida Aquarium has partnered with Le Roots, a premium urban farm in South Tampa, to provide high-quality produce to its animals with a focus on animal wellbeing and sustainability. Species like the radiated tortoises, Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, ring-tailed lemurs and other herbivores are receiving kale and romaine lettuce in their regular diets.

“This partnership allows us to provide the highest quality, most nutrient-rich food to our animals,” said Tim Binder, Senior Vice President of Animal Care and Health at The Florida Aquarium. “We are excited to collaborate with Le Roots as a we continue our dedication to excellence in animal care.”

Beginning this month, the Aquarium started receiving kale and romaine for the animals from Le Roots. The aeroponic/hydroponic indoor farming lab utilizes vertical towers to cultivate premium produce with unparalleled care and precision.

Zack and Christina Alvarez, who are fourth generation Tampanians, purchased the property on MacDill Avenue during the pandemic and began by serving some of the Bay Area’s top restaurants, including Michelin-Star recipients and recognized chefs. The couple is excited to grow the partnership with the Aquarium, now feeding the animals they enjoyed visiting while growing up.

“Animals are getting that same exact produce that these restaurant customers are paying high-end dollars to get. It’s very cool for us to say everybody is getting the best of the best,” said Le Roots Co-Owner Christina Alvarez. “We have been coming to the Aquarium for years now, it’s just a dream come true to work with the Aquarium and be able to give back to our community—a place that means so much to us and our families.”

Locally Sourced Food with a Focus on Sustainability

The farm aligns with the Aquarium’s focus on sustainability in its practices—minimizing the use of lights and electricity, utilizing rainwater tanks and the tower gardens to yield the highest quality and quantity of food at the lowest cost.

“Our greenhouse and food facility are powered by low-voltage, single-phase power, so we’re using what a single house pulls in this neighborhood,” said Le Roots Co-Owner Zack Alvarez. “Local sustainability, like the Aquarium, is at the forefront of what we do to create a food source for dense urban areas, so they can have access to the freshest produce—for people and animals.”

“The fact that Le Roots is just a 15-minute drive away, we can actually trace the food that we’re feeding the animals from the time it’s planted as a seed through its growth, processing for shipment, and then we receive it within a day of it being harvested,” added Binder. “You can’t get any better than that.”

Supplying Produce for Visitors Too

As part of its commitment to sustainability and community-consciousness, the Aquarium’s culinary partner SSA Group has been working with Le Roots to supply high-quality produce to visitors at The Florida Aquarium’s restaurant. Raising the bar for culinary excellence, the farm is growing a variety of vegetables and herbs—including spring mix, arugula, bibb lettuce, cilantro, parsley and basil—for its on-site restaurant, Café Ray.
Le Roots provides weekly deliveries to the Aquarium, and in December, the company plans to open a market next to its greenhouse, allowing the public to access farm-fresh food directly from the source.

Contact The Florida Aquarium communications@flaquarium.org

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