Young Bloods: VertiFarms

Kevin Morgan-Rothschild, COO

Photographed by Cheryl Gerber

Fresh produce has a welcome place in New Orleans’ culinary repertoire. After all, nothing beats the bite of a fresh bell pepper or the crunch of a Creole tomato. But growing fresh produce within city limits comes with its own set of difficulties – especially space restrictions. How can New Orleans residents obtain the fresh, local produce they crave within city limits?

By taking an unconventional approach to gardening, VertiFarms provides aeroponic garden system installations and management. Utilizing aeroponics (the process of growing produce in an environment without soil) VertiFarms gardens can make the most of a limited agricultural space. Because the aeroponic tower systems operate vertically – imagine a tall column with perforations for the plants – VertiFarms gardens can take root in a variety of unlikely locations; schoolyards, rooftops and just about any place with sunlight are now potential gardens.

As expected, the VertiFarms systems have been a hit with local businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, schools and other organizations that want to grow fresh food on site. In addition to being the definition of “locally-grown,” these gardens have environmental benefits as well. The aeroponic gardens reduce water consumption that’s a by-product of traditional gardening, and they even come with the option to capture rainwater. Since the products’ introduction in 2011, VertiFarms has helped grow 1,400 pounds of fresh produce.

Kevin Morgan-Rothschild and Doug Jacobs imagined the creation of modular food production systems while still students at Tulane University. With their local objective and vision, their idea evolved over the years to provide accessible herbs and vegetables for the New Orleans community.

According to Morgan-Rothschild, he considers “helping establish the first aeroponics garden in the food market” the company’s greatest success thus far. And, boosted by this initial achievement, VertiFarms has formed a partnership with a Garden Thyme Nursery on Broad Street to provide a brick-and-mortar home front for the company. Aspiring aeroponics gardeners will soon be able to examine the different growing systems and learn about their care and maintenance.

By taking the concept of urban farming and turning it on its head, VertiFarms gives New Orleanians the option of cooking with the freshest herbs and vegetables possible.

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