CHEYENNE, Wyo. — With the installation of the world’s largest vertical garden research center in Laramie, Wyomingites will have easy access to fresh produce and see a boost in the state’s economy, project leaders said during a noon press conference.
Governor Mark Gordon announced today that the State Loan and Investment Board approved a $20 million grant to the City of Laramie to construct a 60,000-square-foot facility that will be built on 16 acres at the Cirrus Sky Technology Park.
With the board’s approval, the facility should be constructed later this year and open in early 2025.
In a vertical garden, plants are grown on vertically suspended panels using hydroponics, a farming technique that uses a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil.
Plenty Unlimited, a Laramie-based company that specializes in growing this type of garden, is spearheading the research.
“We wanted to figure out how we could apply technology to agriculture in a way that makes it more accessible and applicable around the world,” said Nate Storey, chief science officer of the company. “Building this [center] is going to allow us to do that.”
Plenty Chief Executive Officer Arama Kukuta said the center’s energy-saving farms will grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, providing fresh produce to locals.
Last year, Plenty Unlimited announced it would build the world’s largest indoor vertical farm on a $300 million, 120-acre campus near Richmond, Virginia.
Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said having this “cluster” in Laramie for research and development is an ideal economic situation.
“Our goal is not just to create those great jobs, build communities and get rid of barriers to growth,” Dorrell said. “When you can develop a cluster and start that, it is incredible, and it is really our dream.”
Nearly 200 jobs in plant science research and other areas will be supported by the center.