In the isolated ski-town of Jackson Hole, Wyo., there’s something unique tucked into the corner of a three-story parking garage: a huge, glowing glass wall that illuminates thousands of hydroponic plants growing inside, catching the eye of nearly everyone who walks by.
Meet Vertical Harvest, an indoor farm that can produce 5 acres of food on just one-tenth of an acre. After eight years in the planning stages, this greenhouse finally opened its doors this past spring and geared up production of items impossible to grow outside most months out of the year due to long winters, early frosts and tender plants like lettuce and herbs. Jackson Hole’s altitude of 6,237 feet doesn’t help much, either.
For most of the year, healthy greens like lettuce, herbs, tomatoes and microgreens must be trucked in from California, lengthening the time between harvest and plate, and clocking miles in carbon emissions. Vertical Harvest cofounders Penny McBride and Nona Yehia were dedicated to bringing local, healthy food to this remote city year-round, all while operating as a sustainable and socially minded business. An innovative employment model provides 15 jobs to local Wyoming residents with intellectual and physical disabilities, who work alongside a support staff, interns, volunteers and the founders every day. The facility enjoys what is called a universal design, which accommodates all who enter the building (including those taking tours) regardless of age, size or disability.
View the slideshow to learn more about Vertical Harvest’s exceptional facility, and how Jackson Hole’s restaurants, retailers and consumers now have access to fresh greens year-round.