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    Farm-to-Fork in 24 Hours

    By Vertical Harvest
    Photo by Alexander Herring Photo by Alexander Herring

    Vertical Harvest


    There are *zero* reliable growing days in Jackson.

    The year-round frost risk threatens generational farms to community gardens, and when winter is always looming, it’s challenging to cultivate produce. So in 2010, Vertical Harvest co-founders, Nona Yehia, Penny McBride, and Caroline Croft Estay set out to find a solution and support the local food economy.

    Today, Vertical Harvest grows up to 50,000 pounds of produce year-round and supplies nutritious leafy greens to local restaurants, grocery stores, and food security organizations. How’d they do it? An innovative approach called vertical farming. And in doing so, they became the first in North America to design and construct an indoor vertical hydroponic greenhouse.

    In partnership with Jackson, Vertical Harvest transformed a unique footprint along the wall of a parking garage – 30’ wide x 150’ long– into a growing oasis in the heart of downtown Jackson. The 1/10 of an acre plot is three stories tall and quickly became an iconic landmark for locals and visitors. This was all to plan, thanks to company CEO, Nona Yehia, who is an architect by trade and believes that urban design can be a powerful vehicle for change.

    Vertical Harvest prioritizes feeding its community first. The supply chain is intentionally short, first supplying local and visiting eaters. Produce hits grocery store shelves approximately 24 – 48 hours from harvest and travels an average distance of 6 miles from farm to fork. Vertical Harvest greens are delivered at peak flavor and nutrition, 365 days a year. And even when it’s snowing outside, restaurants can feature vibrant greens on their menus and offer an exceptional farm-to-table dining experience.

    Photo by Alexander Herring

    But really, how does it work?

    Vertical Harvest operates a controlled environment where seedlings are spoonfed for ideal growth. They receive the perfect recipe of light, temperature, humidity, nutrient-water and love. The plants are monitored by automated systems that include cameras and sensors, watching over them 24/7, 365. Then, they’re harvested at their most vibrant stage, packaged, and delivered to the local culinary and grocer community.

    It’s that easy. Well, most of the time. It is a farm after all, and like all farms, equipment needs upgrading, systems repaired, and pests make themselves present. Unlike most farms though, Vertical Harvest has an especially resilient workforce. 40 percent of the team identifies with a disability. In Wyoming, 78% of people who identify with a disability are unemployed, so once again Vertical Harvest set out to find a solution through its unique Grow Well model. The food revolution is upon us and Vertical Harvest is making history right here in Jackson.

     

    Vertical Harvest

    Thank you to Vertical Harvest for contributing this content. Vertical Harvest energizes local food systems via hydroponic, vertical, controlled environmental agriculture (CEA) to deliver healthier food and futures.

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