1556-Vertical Harvest – Jackson Hole, WY

I was walking around Jackson Hole, WY and saw this crazy LED lit building. Things were moving inside, lights were flashing, and the building was filled with vegetables on a rotating elevator system. I had to go in and ask questions. I was amazed that this technology was working even through the winter in Jackson Hole, WY.

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Here is what I found from the workers and from their web site:

Vertical Harvest is a three story hydroponic farm.

Hydroponic farming is a highly productive, environmentally friendly, and space efficient means of farming which offers numerous benefits for both the producer and consumer. It is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions that are delivered to the plants in irrigation water eliminating the need for soil. Water is re-circulated in the system thereby using 90% less water than traditional farming (USDA). Hydroponics allows control over plant nutrition, for optimal flavor and quality. Some hydroponics crops can grow twice as fast as traditionally farmed crops as they receive exactly the correct amount of nutrients, water and oxygen. Our specially designed re-circulating hydroponic methods save land, save water, eliminate agricultural runoff and chemical pesticides, and offer the benefits of efficient, high-yield, local, year-round food production.

Vertical Harvest is built on a site that is 1/10 of an acre and will produce up to 100,000 lbs of fresh produce annually.

Although Vertical Harvest is situated on a site that is 1/10 of an acre, the greenhouse will be able to produce the equivalent of 5 acres of traditional agriculture. Vertical Harvest’s efficient building design and growing carousels will turn a 4500 sq.ft. footprint into 18,000 sq.ft., or four times the growing area.

Vertical Harvest is an L3C, low-profile limited liability company.

Vertical Harvest is a low-profit limited liability (L3C) company, which is a for-profit, social enterprise venture that has a stated goal of performing a socially beneficial purpose, not maximizing income. It is a hybrid structure that combines the legal and tax flexibility of a traditional LLC, the social benefits of a nonprofit organization, and the branding and market positioning advantages of a social enterprise. For-profit firms often face pressure to abandon social goals in favor of increasing profits. Non-profit firms and charities are needlessly restricted in their ability to raise capital when they need to grow. Vertical Harvest sees the L3C as a powerful model that will support it as a sustainable business that will stand the test of time.

Vertical Harvest has a climate and site specific design, which will withstand extreme temperatures in Jackson, WY.

Vertical Harvest has been designed specifically for Jackson’s altitude, latitude, climate and location. In 2010, at the outset of a project, thanks to a Technical Assistance Grant provided by the Wyoming Business Council, Vertical Harvest conducted a year long feasibility study to determine if it was possible to locate a greenhouse in Jackson Hole. The report, prepared by The Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology and E/Ye Design concluded that siting a greenhouse in Jackson is feasible. Since then, Vertical Harvest has retained a well respected greenhouse engineer, Larssen Ltd. a firm with 20 years of experience in the field, that has built successful greenhouses in other places with climates as harsh or harsher than our own, such as Maine, Siberia and Iceland with the most extreme design temperature of -85°F. Vertical Harvest has been designed to easily maintain an internal temperature of 67°F with a design temperature of -30°F.

Vertical Harvest is a public amenity.

Vertical Harvest has a dedicated central public atrium that is physically separated by glass walls from the major growing areas in the building to encourage visitors to visually experience the greenhouse without risk of contaminating the crops. On the ground floor Vertical Harvest will have a small but functional ‘living classroom’ where we can grow a limited amount of specialty crops while at the same time incorporating educational initiatives. Here, because there is no soil used and we will growing in mobile containers that are up off the ground, making potential pests and diseases much easier to avoid.

Vertical Harvest does not compete with local farmers.

Vertical Harvest produce does not compete with area growers, but instead competes with currently imported produce from large-scale distributors whose supply is from distant states. Vertical Harvest grows locally, but the target sales will supplant produce imported to restaurants and local grocery stores. This means Vertical Harvest will make existing Wyoming businesses, as local customers, stronger because they won’t have to pay costly up charges for transportation. Vertical Harvest highlights the importance of local food sources, our success will only bring increased attention to all who provide fresh, nutritious produce to our community.