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Vertical Harvest: Innovation and self-reliance

 

I recently toured a super interesting greenhouse in Jackson called Vertical Harvest. I’ve never seen anything like it. It uses hydroponics, or the process of growing plants without soil. Instead of the typical soil and sun, it uses nutrient-enriched water, natural and artificial light, and carousels.  In this way, Vertical Harvest (VH) produces a year-round crop in a ski town with a 2 month growing season.

 

The three-story carosel

 

What do they grow?

When planning what to grow, VH asked the local restaurants what they would like. The restaurants requested tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and microgreens such as arugula, Swiss chard, and mustard.

What’s so great about locally grown?

Because it doesn’t have to travel far, it is more fresh. Also, it just feels good to hand my money directly to the person who planted and cultivated my food. There is a sense of friendship, community, pride, and peace of mind.

Why I love Vertical Harvest’s employment model:

In addition to a really unique way to grow food, VH has a special employment model. They employ 15 people with disabilities, or as Vertical Harvest appropriately says “different abilities.” It’s a beautiful thing! As an occupational therapist, I use meaningful activites to help people with disabilities become more indepenent. I have always believed that the best way to improve our abilities and health is not through boring exercises but through enjoyable activities. So I really appreciate what VH is doing for their employees!

 

 

I was also impressed with the national attention this greenhouse has attracted. The following well-known media have published articles about VH: New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Huffington Post.  A documentary called Hearts of Glass is also in the works.

At the end of the tour, we could purchase produce picked that day, as well as unique and beautiful items from local artists.

 

Here’s a handmade outfit from a local artist that I was tempted to buy.

I am so impressed with the creative and good things that the VH people are doing! Keep up the great work!

 

Vertical Harvest is located at 155 W. Simpson Ave. Jackson, Wyoming

by Jessica Heath

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