The seeds of innovation officially sprout at Vertical Harvest

(Jackson, Wyo.) - When you push open the door, you are blasted with warmth and humidity, even though construction is still being completed at Vertical Harvest. The building, which is the first of its kind in Jackson and one of only several in the U.S., appears to utilize every bit of space possible with innovative growing apparatuses that rotate the plants so they each get the optimal amount of sunlight. Vertical Harvest is its own self-contained ecosystem. The three-story, 12,300 sq. ft. hydroponic greenhouse will grow the same amount of food annually as a five-acre farm. Just a few weeks ago, despite the ongoing construction inside the building, Vertical Harvest Executive Director Penny McBride and Managing Partner Nona Yehia were able to start the first tomato plants. Today, the second floor is packed with growing plants and buzzing bees. [image: Inline image 1] *h/t Vertical Harvest* "We have had the tomatoes planted for three weeks and they are looking great," said McBride. "It is an exciting time for us to be in the greenhouse." "We are really testing right now because this whole building works as an ecosystem -- lighting, heating and nutrients all work together," Yehia added. They hope to be growing at full capacity by mid-March and the grand opening is expected in mid-May. Once fully operational, Vertical Harvest will be open for tours, feature a living classroom for community education and sell through a shop called Market. "We are really excited about Market. It is going to obviously sell food that we grow in the greenhouse, and include other local foods for Market Days, but also feature products by local artists like Jenny Dowd and Ben Roth," said Yehia. "It will be a cross between a museum store, a market and a garden store." [image: Inline image 2] *h/t Vertical Harvest* Vertical Harvest will employ developmentally disabled persons and provide a truly integrated workplace. "Our innovators will be people with developmental disabilities. That changes so many perceptions of what this population can do and that is very meaningful to me," said Yehia. Generally, McBride and Yehia seem happy that their five-year endeavor is finally coming to fruition. "It is the dream project because it does really wrap everything together -- local food and the social mission," said McBride. "I have always been a firm believer in a business being able to support the community in so many ways." "We are so grateful for the community support, along with their patience throughout this whole process," said Yehia. *Feature Photo: (Left to Right) Nona Yehia and Penny McBride. Pitchengine Communities.* #buckrail #news