Growing Greener

In recent weeks we have seen over 3 million acres of land burned on the west coast of the United States and for the second time in modern history, we have 5 tropical storms formed in the Atlantic. Some may say that this is just chance, but for many who are watching the environment, they can’t help but believe that these all too often occurrences are due to human impact on the environment. As we watch the world change before us, in more ways than one, there are those who are asking the question, “Can we make changes that can have a lasting impact?” Nona Yehia would say it is possible.

We know throughout history that wars have been fought over land and resources. Our environment is changing on a daily basis and we are finding a world that seems to be less hospitable to its inhabitants due to the lack of behavior change in order to help our planet be a healthier place. We continue to cut forests, rely on fossil fuels and use pesticides that end up as run off in our lakes and ponds and we are seeing the results of our poor behavior. The consequences are only going to get worse. Resources will become scarcer, temperatures will continue to climb and clean water will be harder to find unless we make changes. This is a Resource Dilemma. We consciously make the choice to continue to water our lawns and use up precious resources like they will always be there. (Gruman et al., 2017)

As we look to business and government to make a change in the world to value the planet over the all mighty dollar we are beginning to see leaders rise up from the crowd in a hope to make an impact in the world and their environment. A recent news article I saw out of Wyoming in the Chariton Newspaper online, told the story of an architect turned entrepreneur, Nona Yehia, who developed a business called Vertical Roots. The basic premise of the business was that it took a10th of an acre building and grows 10 acres of food in it. The building not only supplies readily available food to local residents and restaurants year round, it does it with no pesticides, zero water consumption and the owner even built the business around hiring those who are underserved in the community. This is a Social Dilemma or taking a space or building that is of little to no use for the good of mankind and turning it into something that is. (Gruman et al., 2017)

Vertical Harvest Farms in Wyoming has 42 employees. 25 of these employees are disabled in some way however, by working with Vertical Harvest Farms they are able to learn new skills and abilities.  They no longer have a job but a career. (Vertical Harvest Farms, n.d.)  Through her efforts she is changing her behavior and her communities’ behavior, which in turn, gives this out of the way place in Wyoming a sustainable resource that is helping the community thrive. This one building provides local foods for over 80 different businesses in 3 states. These businesses would normally not have this kind of access due to the location of the rural cities and towns. (Vertical Harvest Farms, n.d.)
It is thinking like that of Nona Yehia and her Co-Founders that will make the biggest impact to regain the ground we have lost in fighting the war on saving our environment.  Vertical Harvest Farms is opening another facility in Maine in 2022 and gives information on how to start a Vertical Harvest facility on their website, (Vertical Harvest Farms, n.d.). To see how Vertical Harvest started and their first 15 months, check out the video Hearts of Glass.
The Chariton Newspapers. (2020, September 13). How a Wyoming farmer grows 10 acres of      food on a tenth of an acre.                        0152241921e8.html

 Vertical Harvest Farms. (n.d.). Fact sheet.

Gruman, J. A.,  Schneider, F. W. , &. Coutts, L.M. (Eds.). (2016). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems 3rd edition. SAGE Publications.

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  1. While I generally agree with your perspective, and your concern for growing greener, I think that you to some degree mis the mark regarding the significant of projects like vertical growing, and its ability to alter the lack of preservation in our society. For example, I think this project is a more appropriate example of how the world could address issues like world hunger, and insufficient food growing projects. However, when we think about climate change, there needs to be a link between climate and taking care of the climate or reducing air pollution and man-made waste (Swart et al., 2004; Jiang et al., 2013).
    Both of the articles I have referenced by Swart et al., (2004) and Jiang et al., (2013) focus on the need for clean air, and how air pollution has created worsening global conditions. Vertical, indoor growing projects don’t occur in a natural growing environment, and do not filter ditty air in the way that outdoor growing could. In addition, it does not alter behavior in such a way that it reduces the creation of waste and pollution. Do you think that there are ways of increasing growing space and effectiveness, to serve the same purpose as the vertical gardening, while also providing an educational means of helping the public understand the importance of clean air, and reduce emissions, in order to more adequately control climate change and reduce the human impact on our changing environment?
    I think an interesting direction to push your research would be the consideration of food insecurity in the United States, and how this both reflects discrimination, and how projects like vertical gardening might help to offset discrimination. I think this goes really well with your overall ideas because you did mention that the business could be built around the idea of serving, and even hiring the underserved in the community. To begin helping to extend this concept, its useful to consider the root causes of food security in the United States, as they have been studied and reported by Feeding America (Evans, 2019). For example, according to Feeding America, and the US Department of Agriculture, Black and Hispanic families have a significantly higher rate of food insecurity than other sub-segments of the population. This is attributed to systemic racism, or race related factors, as they relate to food sovereignty, which Evans (2019) claims cannot be easily solved by the current emergency food system. Thus, creating vertical projects, like the one you describe, and then shaping it to specifically support underserved community could change the structure of food sovereignty in the country, and provide extended opportunities for people of color to be part of the conversation about building hunger- free community designs (Evans, 2019).
    This also clearly fits with the idea of discrimination as presented in our coursework. More specifically, our lessons stated that blatant discrimination is rare, and that more often racism is perpetuated by subversive elements of the system. Certainly, this can be seen in the level of discrimination in food insecurity. The food insecurity in minority populations is treated by the current system with a “lack of urgency” (Evans, 2019). The Children’s Health Watch’s Food Research and Action Center (Bovell-Ammon, 2018) has stated that experiences with police, court, work and store related discrimination are closely related to the degree or prevalence of food insecurity. When I think about this, at a personal level , I think that exterior, or obvious discrimination in the workplace is controlled to some degree by Affirmative Action and other policies, however within the workplace, they may have experienced mistreatment, or getting passed over for bonuses or promotions as a result of their race. This results in them earning less money, and can contribute to food insecurity. Similarly, in a store, you might not be actively discriminated against, like for example being blocked from entry, but you might be treated differently, because of race. This also impacts access to food and related food insecurity.
    I hope that this discussion helps to further consider the ways that your project could be expanded, or considered, and how it could be used to help solve food insecurity. This includes understanding the relationship between the need for green growing, discrimination and food insecurity. I also hope you consider other ways that projects can be used to improve the green movement, or projects to make a cleaner earth for everyone. I think that there is certainly a connection to be found between the need for a clean earth, and that vertical growing could be very useful to address both of these issues, in different ways.


    Bovell-Ammon, A. Evans, S., Ettinger de Cuba, S. and Chilton, M. (2018). From Children’s HealthWatch: From Disparities to Discrimination.

    Evans, S. (2019). Addressing the root causes of food insecurity in the US. – Disparities and Discrimination.

    Swart, R., Amann, M., Raes, F., & Tuinstra, W. (2004). A good climate for clean air: linkages between climate change and air pollution. An editorial essay. Climatic Change, 66(3), 263-269.

    Jiang, P., Chen, Y., Geng, Y., Dong, W., Xue, B., Xu, B., & Li, W. (2013). Analysis of the co-benefits of climate change mitigation and air pollution reduction in China. Journal of Cleaner Production, 58, 130-137.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. Learning about this project was exciting and gies me hope. I live in the California bay area and we here have no doubt global warming is real. Besides the fact that we are watching our state burn with horror and grief, we are also dealing with temps that are way hotter than normal and are getting progressively worse every year. The amount of heat here this year is just mind blowing. We pride ourselves here on being weather wimps with temps rarely going below 40 on the coldest of winter nights and having maybe a week each year where temps may hit the mid 90’s but usually no hotter than the 80’s. We have our bay/costal breeze usually. We joke that year round you wear shorts or jeans and a tank top and always have a hoodie. Today it was 98 degrees. Keep in mind that no one has air conditioning, we have never needed it. I live in the upstairs of an old Victorian, in has been over 80 in my house since I woke up this morning and was over 90 in my house most of the day today. We have probably had a total of 3-4 weeks like this since August 1st. One day it was 106. Our temps came down for awhile when the smoke was so thick the sun couldn’t get through and it was orange dusk all day.

    All of my favorite places are burning. All of the places I went to summer camps in the Redwoods. All of the places we go to escape urban life in the Redwoods. So many people I know have lost everything over the last few years. This is the 4th year in a row that we have had fire seasons like this.

    On top of that we have major Resourse dilemmas here in California. As stated in our textbook, “Resource dilemmas are a matter of life and death for all life on the planet” (Gruman, 2016). We have had years of major droughts, we had just enough rain to give us a little reprive and to be technically not be in a drought anymore but you wouldn’t know when looking at the reservoirs. Agriculture is at war for water with environmentalists and the fishing industry. Farming is utilizing so much water that the smelt and salmon are not able to breed. However at the same time farming is a huge part of our economy, we provide produce and almonds and so much more for a large portion of our country. Then there is the meat industry, cattle raising is especially is a huge industry in California and the amount of water needed to raise cattle is pretty unbelievable. Then you add the amount of water being used for the fires.

    I have heard of similar projects to the one you mentioned in plaves like Singapore but seeing a project like that here in the US gives me hope.

    Thank you

    Applied Social Psychology : Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, edited by Jamie A. Gruman, et al., SAGE Publications, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central,
    Created from pensu on 2020-09-28 22:45:04.

  3. This is something that really bring sme joy to learn about. Obviously it is great for our environment to reuse architecture, this takes it a step farther with all of its growth. It even takes it two steps farther by creating economic opportunities, especially for those who are disabled. This employment, or future career really helps with a person’s self efficacy. It gives them the confidence in themselves to do and achieve more. (Gruman, et al., 2016)

    Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W. , &. Coutts, L.M. (Eds.). (2016). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems 3rd edition. SAGE Publications.

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