Bedrock, the nation’s premier city builder, based in Detroit, and Vertical Harvest, a community-oriented indoor farming company, has announced plans to explore the development of Vertical Harvest Detroit.
Situated within Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood, the proposed 60,000 square foot structure would stand 74 feet tall and feature a 205,000 square foot growing canopy that utilizes hydroponic, vertical and controlled environmental agricultural practices. An estimated 2.2 million pounds of fresh vegetables, including Lettuces, Petite Greens, Microgreens and Herbs would be produced year-round.
With its “feed locals first” philosophy, Vertical Harvest would commit more than 70 percent of the food grown at its proposed Detroit location within 100 miles of the city. This will essentially eliminate long distance transportation issues and offer preference to local and regional distributors, as well as community institutions.
“Food insecurity is one of the most pressing urban problems nationally,” said Kofi Bonner, CEO of Bedrock. “In Detroit, a significant portion of the population does not have easy access to fresh produce. Most importantly, Vertical Harvest products will be made accessible to civic institutions for quick and efficient delivery to our neighborhoods. The partnership with Vertical Harvest is another way that Bedrock will continue to extend our positive impact beyond the downtown core.”
“NUTRIENT SMART” CITY DEVELOPMENT
A consistent, accessible, and affordable nutrient-rich food supply is essential to any 21st century city. As Detroit and other municipalities begin to incorporate food sovereignty into resiliency planning, the increase of nutritional security is essential in the face of growing existential shocks to supply — such as the pandemic, climate change and extreme weather events.
Vertical Harvest’s urban farming concept is a key component of this effort, a market that is expected to reach $31 billion in the U.S. by 2030. Typically seen as cost prohibitive due to the rising rates of urban real estate, Bedrock has helped identify a potential location and resources to bring this concept, rooted in agricultural technology, to market. Vertical Harvest would offer a 24/7 year-round growing schedule in the heart of Detroit, delivering fresher food harvested at peak flavor and nutrition, and varieties optimized for texture and taste.
“We view food production as essential civic infrastructure,” said Nona Yehia, Vertical Harvest’s CEO and Detroit native. “By partnering with city leaders and organizations like Bedrock, we hope to play an important role in scaling sustainable urban infrastructure for Detroiters.”
Compared to traditional outdoor farming methods, Vertical Harvest can output approximately 100 acres worth of food on just half-an-acre of land – using 95 percent less water and preserving arable farmland for crops that cannot be grown indoors.
Coupled with Bedrock’s commitment to environmentally conscious city building initiatives, the partnership with Vertical Harvest is a critical element to providing equitable, sustainable and resilient offerings within the city of Detroit.
“We’re eager to help support and cultivate an ecosystem of fresh food, locally grown across Detroit,” Bonner continued. “Vertical Harvest will increase access to healthy foods and brings green jobs to market.”
Vertical Harvest is committed to their Grow Well hiring model, developed by co-founder Caroline Croft Estay, that empowers Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) for people with disabilities.
More than 40 percent of its employees identify as neurodiverse and/or with a physical or intellectual disability and they customize opportunities to support that mission.
Yehia noted, “Having a partner like Bedrock, that’s championing systemic solutions to critical issues facing the city like sustainability and economic inclusion, is incredibly exciting to me personally as well as for the entire team. I grew up here in Detroit alongside a brother with developmental disabilities and I often saw his access to opportunity being defined by what people thought were his limitations. But when you begin with possibility and potential, you open up whole new worlds of opportunity.”