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June 15, 2024
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Wyoming’s Vertical Farm Takes Root Nationally with Unique Model

A Wyoming (US) company that started from an innovative use of leftover space in a Jackson parking lot is about to cultivate new ground nationwide.

Vertical Harvest in Jackson is North America’s first vertical hydroponic farm. Because of its success, it is opening a 51,000-square-foot vertical farming facility in Maine and will break ground on another in Detroit.The business grows 40 acres worth of produce — tomatoes, micro greens, basil and more — on a quarter-acre urban hydroponic farm.

On top of that, it’s created an employment model that provides a marginalized population of disabled workers with good-paying jobs. That’s created opportunities for independent living and advancement that didn’t really exist for that population before.

As a result of their “growing well” employment model, which helps disabled people learn to navigate in the real world, some who were before deemed unable to live independently have earned re-evaluations and now have their own places.

Now Vertical Harvest is taking this doing well by doing good concept national.

The company has recently secured $56 million in financing to replicate what is a Wyoming success story in Maine, where the company plans to build a larger, 51,000-square-foot vertical farming facility in downtown Westbrook.

Westbrook has committed to growing 30% of its food locally by 2030, and Vertical Harvest’s “feed locals first” model with fresh, farm-to-fridge produce fits right into this goal.

Vertical Harvest’s plan for the facility there is to produce 2.5 million pounds of fresh, leafy greens every year. Because the plan is to go from farm to fridge within 24 hours, that would avoid a 30% loss in nutritional value that happens with food shipped from California, Arizona or abroad.

Vertical Harvest CEO and Co-founder Nona Yehia said, “We always had an eye toward this model being scalable and replicable, that’s always been our vision, to be able to build something from the ground up in the community, tailored to the community it serves.”

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