A new vertical greenhouse project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, promises to uphold a two-pronged social mission: sustainable high-density agriculture and fair employment for individuals with developmental disabilities!
The revolutionary greenhouse project, spearheaded by co-founders Penny McBride and Nona Yehia, is called Vertical Harvest. The project takes up only 1/10 of a single acre but is estimated to produce the amount of produce that 5 acres of traditional agriculture would produce – using only 10% of the water that traditional farming would. The farm also operates an on-site market that sells directly to the community and provides produce for Jackson area restaurants and grocery stores.
The key to this urban farm’s mission is its commitment to developing stable and fairly compensated positions for its employees, many of whom have developmental disabilities. Because individuals with disabilities are one of the most underemployed segments of the U.S. population (with employment rates hovering at about 12%), the project seeks to highlight how community connections can foster the employment skills and social mastery needed to help individuals with disabilities live meaningful lives.
Filmmaker Jennifer Tennican is filming the farm’s first year of operations, condensing its story down into the film Hearts of Glass. The film strives to make sure the voices of the greenhouse’s employees are heard – a critical issue, as we don’t often hear the stories of individuals with disabilities in the media. The film gives these employees the chance to speak directly for themselves, helping grow the public’s awareness of how intentional community-building can help support these individual’s capabilities, desires and needs.
For more information on Vertical Harvest, please see the following links:
- Interview with Heart of Glass director Jennifer Tennican
- Vertical Harvest Official Website and Facebook Page
- New York Times: A Ski Town Greenhouse Takes Local Produce to the Next Level
- The Outpost: Food and Community Elevated
- [Video] Heart of Glass Trailer
- Help Fund Hearts of Glass!
- Local Film in Progress Illuminates the People Behind the Glass at Vertical Harvest