Seed startup Row 7's creation is all the more reason to wait in line for salad.

By Tim Nelson
September 27, 2018
Jennifer A Smith/Getty Images

This November, Sweetgreen will begin serving a dish with "Robin's Koginut Squash", a vegetable that wasn't available to the public for consumption until just earlier this year. The squash is a product of the latest brainchild from Chef Dan Barber and seed breeder Michael Mazourek’s seed startup Row 7. The startup selectively breeds a variety of vegetables to maximize factors like yield, shelf stability, and, of course, flavor.

A recent Fast Company article shows that Sweetgreen were intrigued by the potential Row 7’s bespoke seed business model (which launched back in February) at an early stage. Once Mazourek was able to produce a viable koginut, Sweetgreen purchased about 100,000 seeds of the hybrid squash that marries the rich flavor of butternut squash with the smoothness of a Japanese kabocha. Some of those were planted at six farms around the country in May, which gave Row 7 an opportunity to beta test how the seeds would hold up in different growing conditions.

After testing the fully-grown koginut to assess its taste, nutrition, and other food industry suitability metrics, the seeds were shared further with Sweetgreen’s farm partners. Starting November 1, Row 7 will supply 89 Sweetgreen locations across the country with koginut, in a to be announced speciality bowl.

But it's not just your local salad chain that can reap the benefits of the koginut. Koginut squash seeds are currently available to the public for purchase on Row 7's website, and many smaller farms are already in the process of growing the crop.

Row 7 is less than a year old, so it’s worth waiting until after the fall harvest comes in to see just how well the squash will fare. But make no mistake: if Sweetgreen’s koginut squash dish sells well, expect a whole host of companies in search of unique tastes that fit a farm-to-table vibe to get on Barber’s bandwagon. As Row 7 states, "we believe flavor can succeed where commodification has failed."