An innovative greenhouse that backs up to the Millward Street parking garage now has $500,000 in hand to study expanding into Chicago.
The Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, awarded Vertical Harvest a grant of that sum through its Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge.
The grant program is a partnership with the National Affordable Housing Trust, which presents exciting prospective growth opportunities for the community greenhouse formed a decade ago by valley residents Nona Yehia, Penny McBride and Caroline Croft Estay.
“I think the National Affordable Housing Trust has 1,452 sites that they’re going to be developing in the next 10 years,” said Sam Bartels, Vertical Harvest’s business development director. “Jackson has always been our proof of concept and our pilot,” she said. “We’ve had people from all over the world contact us on a weekly basis about how they could do this.”
While adding Vertical Harvest-like facilities around the country and planet may be the long-term vision, the product of the grant is initially much more narrow. The half-million dollars will be put toward a feasibility study that will analyze the efficacy of building vertical greenhouses at three existing affordable housing developments in the Chicago area, Yehia said.