Vertical Harvest will be the first three-story, 13,500 square-foot hydroponic green house built in the United States operating year round to sell fresh, locally grown produce to the Jackson Hole community through multiple venues at a competitive and consistent price. Vertical Harvest will provide inclusive employment year round for citizens with disabilities and be a self sufficient for profit business that will serve to set new standards in architecture, growing and employment.
Vertical Harvest will sit on a 30’ x 150’ downtown plot providing an urban planning solution to food production while setting new standards with the “vertical” nature of the architecture and green house growing systems. “It’s the first of its kind in the country,” says Vertical Harvest co-founder and architect Nona Yehia of Jackson-based E/Ye Design. “This building is exciting in that it wraps social, architectural, and agricultural innovations into one dynamic project.”
Even the business model for Vertical Harvest is pioneering. It has been set up as a LCCC, a for-profit organization that includes a social mission. “We feel it is critical for the long term sustainability of the business and important for the employees to be engaged in a for-profit structure,” stated Penny McBride, Vertical Harvest co-founder and business partner with Yehia. Through a combination of private equity, grants (the largest from the Wyoming Business Council), the Town of Jackson support and local “seed funders”, the founders raised nearly $4 million prior to the groundbreaking this week. At the ceremony a large crowd celebrated with Wyoming Governor, the Honorable Matthew Mead and the head of the Wyoming Business Council Shawn Reese, both in attendance. The opening date is set for Fall 2015.
From the Left: Jefferson Ellinger, Nona Yehia Eye Design and Co Founder Vertical Harvest, Anna Olson, JHMR VH Board Member, Governor Matt Mead, Mayor Mark Barron, Amy Linn, Self Advocate/Future Employee, Sean Reese, Chair of Wyoming Business Council, Penny McBride, Co Founder Vertical Harvest, John Scott, First Interstate Bank
“After full investigation into the Vertical Harvest business model, the combination of the employment model and the private/public partnership made it clear this was a viable business, but more importantly to me was the societal innovation in the employment model and the solutions that were found beyond traditional financing,” stated David Sokol, Equity Investor, CEO Teton Capital. “Jackson Hole is known for our beautiful National Park backdrop and long winters of snow and skiing so if we can do it here, the message is it can be done anywhere and that is the point,” Sokol added.
Future employees of Vertical Harvest at Groundbreaking Ceremony with Governor Mead
Major Grants were received from: Wyoming Business Council, Wyoming Governor’s Council on Developmental Disability, First Interstate Bank, Teton Community Foundation of Jackson Hole and 1% for the Tetons.
Corporate Sponsors: First Interstate Bank, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Teton Lodge Company
Seed Funders: Over 300 local Jackson Hole residents
*Employment First is a concept to facilitate the full inclusion of people with the most significant disabilities in the workplace and community. Under the Employment First approach, community-based, integrated employment is the first option for employment services for youth and adults with significant disabilities. Integrated employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings where they earn at least minimum wage, work with persons without disabilities and they are paid directly by the employer. (Source: U.S Department of Labor)