Art comes in many forms, such as watercolors on a canvas or sculptures in a gallery, while another style of art can be found outdoors—as produce hanging on the wall of a commercial building.

The town of Laramie, Wyoming, recently launched this creative idea with the hope of putting them on the map as the Farm Wall capital of the United States. To combat their brutal winters and short growing season, they took on the challenge of turning their blank downtown walls into a vertical garden.

Jessica Brauer is the communications coordinator for Laramie Main Street Alliance (LMSA), a non-profit focused on creating a thriving downtown for their businesses, property owners, and locals. They were approached last June by Bright Agrotech to bring awareness to their ZipGrow™ technology and brighten the walls of their historic downtown.

Bright Agrotech offers the ZipGrow™ vertical farm wall for small farmers wanting to grow more food with fewer resources using appropriate growing techniques and technology. Their goal is to empower urban farmers to grow the freshest leafy greens and herbs for their local markets.

“Bright Agrotech provided the technology, installing and maintaining throughout the growing season,” said Brauer. “We aided in acquiring funds and promotions, while the local businesses and property owners offered up their walls. The project was met with overwhelming positivity from the participating businesses, locals, and visitors who stumbled onto the walls while wandering the streets of downtown.”

LMSA doesn’t have the resources to help another community wishing to replicate this project; however, there are grant funds available to non-profits looking to launch projects that enhance a community. LMSA would encourage community organizations to explore these options as they search for resources.

“We love to see projects replicated and brought to life outside of our neighborhood and would love to cheerlead or offer support in any way that we can,” Brauer assured. “If anyone has questions or hang-ups from the community organization side of things, they can certainly reach out to me. As a community looks to explore a project like this, I’d encourage them to seek out the help of someone who works with similar technology professionally, or purchase the systems directly from Bright Agrotech.”

The WV Panhandle could be the next area to duplicate this unique idea.

Lori Robertson, an avid gardener from Shepherdstown, loves the idea of these walls and feels this is something that could take place locally if the research is done properly on how to erect the farm walls.

“We would have to target areas/buildings, then go to the Historic Landmarks Commission and possibly the Planning Commission,” she explained. “Shepherdstown is already progressive in its recycling program; we do a good job of maintaining our garden beds along German Street. We have a couple of Tiny Library’s as well, so this would be one more very cool idea that I’m sure the public would embrace. We would need to see if the business community would go out and water these walls if the HLC approves them.”

Fiona Harrison, who runs the Charles Town Farmers Market, said, “There are many people in this area that would love to eat food grown on a vertical wall. So many locals already eat healthy foods, watch their weight, exercise, and engage in healthful activities and behaviors with their families.”

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