Peachy the Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 32

The New Frontier in Farming As one of the world’s first vertical hydroponic greenhouses—built on a sliver of vacant land next to a park- ing garage—it’s 13,500 square feet and utilizes a one-tenth of an acre infill lot to grow an annual amount of produce equivalent to five acres of traditional agriculture. Hydroponic farming is a highly pro- ductive, environmentally friendly and space-efficient way to farm. The method involves growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions delivered in irrigated water, eliminating the need for soil. The water is recirculated, using 90 percent less water than tradi- tional farming. Hydroponic farming allows control over plant nutrition for optimal flavor and quality, and some hydroponic crops grow at twice the pace of their soil-based peers, making it an ideal alternative farming option for Jackson Hole’s climate. Vertical Harvest’s produce does not compete with traditional area grow- ers but instead tries to reduce the amount of imported produce and related transportation charges to local businesses from large-scale distribu- tors suppling Wyoming from distant states. The organization’s specially 30 PEACHYTHEMAGAZINE.COM designed recirculating hydroponic methods save land and water, elimi- nate agricultural runoff and chemical pesticides, and offer the benefits of efficient, high-yield, local, year-round food production…and some pretty tasty leafy greens. Sam Bartels, Business Development Director, says, “We currently deliver produce twice weekly to several local restaurants and grocery stores. When we reach capacity we will be produc- ing 100,000 pounds of produce per year.” There’s also a public retail space, “Market,” which sells the farm’s pro- duce—including tomatoes, microgreens and lettuce to locals and visitors. “Unexpected challenges are the nature of all farming,” explains Sam, “and whenever you have a business rooted in something that is living you can always expect the unexpected— hydroponics is no exception. We may have a different list of challenges, but they are farming challenges all the same. With this being said, our farm is incredibly unique.” Vertical Harvest is more than just a farm. CEO Nona says they are starting to see an impact on social innovation