Vertical farming is transforming Colorado’s Front Range

Sally Herbert is an Air Force Reserve veteran who once served in Operation Desert Storm. She also owns and operates Altius, a vertical aeroponic farm in the heart of Denver.

From the outside, it looks like any other city block: tall buildings, crowded streets and kids on the playground. But beyond the urban exterior exists a lush, second story oasis bursting with sixteen varieties of local greens including lettuce, basil, arugula, rainbow chard, kale and more.

Amid a pinkish hue of LEDs mixed with winter sunlight, Herbert showed me around the 8,000-square-foot urban greenhouse. Along the way we talked about one of Colorado’s key agricultural issues: a growing lack of water. Altius is one of the early farms in Colorado to tackle this issue head on by applying a vertical and soilless system using drip-based aeroponics. 

But Altius isn’t the only urban greenery charting new territory. Nearby in Lakewood, another vertical farm is hiding in plain sight. Tucked amid a series of warehouses off Highway 6, Infinite Harvest has roughly the same amount of square feet as Altius. Yet this farm design ditches sunlight altogether, creating a 17-foot high fully controlled cubic growing space. In total, the urban farm equates to about three quarters of an acre of conventional farm land, or about 35,000 square feet.

Director of Operations Jim Romano highlights the uniqueness of working at the farm, joking about how it’s become his Willy Wonka moment. Yet he’s very serious about the enhanced capacities of their growing space. “In here, it’s like creating the best day outside every day inside,” he says. 

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