It’s the end of the year and we have so much to be grateful for at Vertical Harvest. It’s also a year where we grew as much as the plants in the greenhouse! Here are some of our greatest hits for 2021…
Fast Company “World Changing Ideas” x 3
Our business model is designed to be a systemic solution, not just a point solution, and operate at the intersection of climate resiliency, food accessibility and economic inclusivity. This is how we earned not one, not two, but three honorable mentions from Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas. Read more about us in their feature article.
Expansion Plan Announcement – 10 cities in the next 5 years, starting with Westbrook Maine.
One of the most exciting updates we shared this year was our announcement of our partnership with The Day Brothers and the City of Westbrook to develop the state’s first urban hydroponic farm, with over 200,000 sqft of growing area contributing 1.8 million pounds of produce to the local food economy. This farm is co-located with 60 residential housing units and other amenities. This partnership could not be possible without Harriman Architects, GYDE Architects, and Wright-Ryan Construction. We are making major headway and plan to break ground in Q1 of 2022. This initiative led to several of our most exciting announcements in 2021:
Partnership with Sodexo
In spring 2021 Sodexo announced a partnership with Vertical Harvest Maine to supply 80% of its greens across all fourteen of its partners, including collegiate campuses from Fort Kent to South Portland – and help deliver on Gov Janet Mills and MEDECD’s Maine 10 Year Economic Development Strategy
Partnership with Native Maine
“We are very excited about Vertical Harvest coming to Westbrook, and the model they represent. Maine will have a producer that can provide high-quality and nutritious greens year-round and Native Maine will be here to distribute it throughout the state and beyond,” said Native Maine President Vinnie Caliendo. And we’re excited too!
Partnership with Hannaford
Hannaford’s Produce Category Manager Mark Jewell said, “We are so encouraged by Vertical Harvest coming to Westbrook, and both the local food supply and inclusive community employment model they represent. A partnership with Vertical Harvest helps Hannaford Supermarkets further offer access to high-quality and nutritious greens year-round. With a first start in Maine, we look forward to the potential this has throughout our regions in five states.”
$1M “We Rise Together” Grant in Chicago
We received $1M grant to go towards developing our project in Pullman, Chicago as part of our initiative to co-locate with affordable housing. The ‘We Rise Together’ grant will enable us to develop our plans for this project to address not only how we approach the environmental benefits of Controlled Environmental Agriculture, but the impact on social justice and public health issues as well. This project is a direct result of the Fannie Mae Innovation contract that we were awarded with the National Affordable Housing Trust.
Expanded Executive Team & In-house Expertise
2021 brought us new and exciting team members that have exponentially grown our expertise and elevated our depth of experience. This year we were ecstatic to welcome…
Todd Hanna – our new Chief Operating Officer joined Vertical Harvest with extensive experience creating, leading, and improving operations in for-profit and non-profit companies, and is a decorated military veteran, having served two combat tours as an officer in the Marine Corps from 2002 – 2008. His experience across multiple industries, including real estate, nonprofit, financial services, construction, online publishing, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) will be vital for standing up our 10 new farms over the next five years.
Marv Tseu – our new Chief Strategy Officer comes with strong C-level experience in both public and private company environments. His strong emphasis on developing successful strategic direction and repeatable management processes for value creation is the fuel to Vertical Harvest’s growth engine. His insight and oversight of our expansion planning will be a true asset in building new partnerships with investor and municipal partners alike.
Ally Gilman – our new Chief Communications Officer joins the Vertical Harvest team after years on the agency side developing messaging for top Fortune 200 brands, supporting company culture development, and building communities and experiences across customer, partner and employee audiences. Her passion to support truly purposeful brands has crystalized our voice and will help us galvanize our community for even greater impact.
Nicole Bojic – our new Chief Marketing Officer comes to Vertical Harvest with a singular focus on our customers and communities and how we best serve them. Her work on sustainability initiatives in and around major brands like Siemens, will help us tell our story and amplify our voice as a grower of good food and good futures within the communities we serve. In addition, she is an advocate of the rigorous measurement of our true social impact and transparent reporting as core brand value.
A Major GROW WELL Milestone – Our New Microfarm
We’re always innovating and incorporating new technology and techniques. Sean Stone to help design and implement our new microfarm-within-the-farm. Our new rack system on the 3rd floor is optimizing our output per sqft and driving profitability. It’s also a major win for helping our neurodiverse employees realize their incredible potential and meet their career goals. Go Sean!
Getting the Word Out
We were honored to be featured on the Today Show this year! And Inc Magazine said we’re changing the face of the $5B CEA Industry and who gets to included in this tech-forward journey! Those stories helped us reach a new level of national audience, but we’re also appreciative of all the wonderful platforms willing to share our story like Yale’s Beyond Agriculture Exhibition developed in partnership with the UN Climate Week and COP26, as well as industry focused publications like Agritecture and AgFunderNews and the Forbes Innovating for Extremes Panel. We’re also making a concerted effort to articulate our vision and philosophy via Medium, with pieces published by both Nona and Caroline this year – and more to come!
– Nona Yehia
CEO & Co-Founder of Vertical Harvest Farms