As many of you may know, Vertical Harvest is a business dedicated to impact. As we develop plans for our expansion, we seek out strategic partnerships to cultivate and enhance the impact our model of farming can have on communities.

I’m thrilled to say that last year, we completed a feasibility study to co-locate vertical farms with affordable housing. The results are nothing short of potential paradigm shift in the way we grow food for urban food deserts. Our model outlines a new way forward for enhancing community through innovation. We studied in detail how two such projects would work in two Chicago sites prime for new ways to increase health and wellness.

A Robust, Holistic Model

Funded by a contract award from Fannie Mae, and in collaboration with National Affordable Housing Trust Mercy Lakefront Housing, and GYDE Architects the study explores the development of a robust, holistic model to address healthy housing and food system inequities. It also explores ways to create a source for consistent, meaningful employment for underserved populations — something we know a lot about.

The study results present a business case to co-locate Vertical Farms and Affordable Housing. It successfully 1). quantifies the positive impacts on the low and moderate income residents and broader community 2). confirms financial and operational feasibility 3). explores a variety of funding mechanisms to support co-location 4). further develops an employment model that serves under-served populations and 5). explores securing commitment from developers and investors.

Working on a Paradigm Shift

Addressing housing, good food and job creation at a commercial scale, the study essentially writes a holistic prescription for empowered, healthy, sustainable, and connected communities across the nation.

You can read the full study here.

So what’s next?

In order to have substantial impact, our plan requires policy change, private and public financial support, and guidelines to create an integrated future that includes both healthy housing and food. We are partnering with local stakeholders to make this a reality.

We are working on it. Stay tuned.

Did you know that we work directly with restaurants to test out new products? We meet with chefs to discover their favorite flavor profiles and customize our grows to meet individual chef and restaurant needs. We even create personalized blends for specific dishes.

This partnership has led to more options in the greenhouse, and, we like to think, to more creativity on the dishes you order from local Jackson restaurants. In fact, our new petite blends (premiering in our Winter Farm Share and on grocery shelves soon after) evolved from trials and tests we conducted with our partner chefs. You’ll be hearing more about these three new microgreen mixes soon.

Profiling Dishes Crafted with Vertical Harvest Greens

Our newly designed email newsletter will profile chef creations each month, like the Elk carpaccio with black garlic pine nuts, aoli, and Vertical Harvest pea shoots shown above. Crafted by the talented chefs at Old Yellowstone Garage restaurant in Teton Village, this “very Wyoming” dish is just one example of how our greens can enliven meals around town.

Our greens can enliven your kitchen creativity, as well, and we encourage you to experiment and let us know what you learn! Share your creations with us and the community at large on social media with the hashtag #govertical. We just might feature your recipe or creation here on our blog, on our Instagram feed, or in our newsletter.