Support Local. Shop Local. Eat Local!

Support Local. Shop Local. Eat Local!

There are numerous benefits of eating local. 

One is the economic benefit of purchasing local; sales of local foods in the US have nearly doubled from $5 billion in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014. Research shows that for every dollar spent on locally-produced foods and their products, between $0.32 and $0.90 is returned to the local economy. Another benefit is the environmental impact of purchasing locally. Locally sourced food can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation due to the shorter distance the food travels. Consuming local foods may have added health benefits as well. Often, we are purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from local producers and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked to decreased risk of some forms of cancer and heart disease.

Want to know more about how you can support local year round? Hear from a local registered dietician and foodie, Stephanie Hodges, on her recommendations.

Meet Your Farmer: Makenna

Meet Your Farmer: Makenna

Nature-loving, Outdoorsy, and Adventurous 

I took a deep dive into Makenna’s life while enjoying some of her fresh shishito peppers and hummus. That’s the thing about Makenna… she opens your mind to new things (or maybe I’m just late to the shishito pepper game. Either way, they were delicious).

Being from Boulder, Colorado, Makenna has always been an nature-loving, outdoorsy, adventurous woman. So, when she came to the College of Charleston, she was shocked to see that her roommates didn’t recycle… didn’t compost… left the water running extra long before hopping in the shower… All things that were second nature to her weren’t commonplace here. So what did Makenna do? Introduced new, eco-friendly habits to her friends. Furthermore, she started volunteering and eventually interning with the Green Heart Project while getting her degrees in Biology and Environmental Science. She truly took Urban Ag to the next level by taking otherwise forgotten areas of campus and turning them into gardens, working with the grounds department, running a compost drop off location on campus, and receiving a grant to start a worm compost on campus.

The Love of Farming

Fast forward to her college graduation and her asking herself… what now? Why not travel Southeast Asia for 3 months and learn more about their farming practices?! While traveling, hiking, visiting beaches, and exploring the culture, Makenna spent two weeks volunteering at two different farms, which was organized through WWOOF. Her immediate take away from her experience was how vital their farming operations were. Without their farms, they couldn’t feed their families; it truly comes down to survival. She was grateful for the opportunity to not just pass through and get a glimpse of their culture, but to actually live, understand, and experience their world.

Joining the Vertical Roots Family

Fast forward one more time to how she came onboard at Vertical Roots. She knew she wanted to plant her roots (see what I did there?) in Charleston, so she accepted an insurance job knowing it wasn’t where her heart belonged, but it was a learning experience. While working full time, she got back into the AG world by working at the downtown farmers market and building her own home aquaponics system. She got wind of what was happening at Vertical Roots and immediately got in touch.

Turns out, persistence really does pay off! Makenna started at Vertical Roots in August of 2018 as a farmer. In her short time here, she’s already making moves and is currently transitioning to Site Supervisor. She has loved seeing the growth (there’s now triple the number of farmers than when she started!) and loves feeling empowered to present ideas to people who actually want to hear them and who make every effort to implement them.

She loves coming to work every day. She loves the opportunities to grow, both personally and professionally. She loves being a part of a growing company that values sustainability. She loves her teammates and the contagious passion that permeates our culture. And she can’t wait to see where the next 7 months… and 7 years… take her here.

Stay tuned, for our next Farmer Spotlight – Mary!

Being Sustainable is Obtainable

Being Sustainable is Obtainable

Work + Life + Mission 

“You work for Vertical Roots? That’s so cool, what’s it like?!” I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve had that conversation in the last couple of months. It is SO “cool”  to work for an innovative and sustainable company right here in Charleston, South Carolina. I have to tell you, it feels good to grow and package high quality, beautiful lettuce while staying mission driven and creating a minimal footprint on the earth. Our growing method is sustainable, natural, and local. We all believe in the product and the process, I am positive this is the reason we show up happy and love our jobs.  

Making a Bigger Impact

In the last couple of months there has been some great achievements in the means of sustainability throughout the companies. We have partnered with CompostNow whose mission is to divert compostables at a business and residential level from ending up in a landfill. Instead, CompostNow uses the compostables (pizza boxes, coffee grounds and filters, paper products and all food scraps including meat, bones, and dairy) to create healthy soil. The soil created by our companies is donated to The Green Heart Project! Soil is an essential component to sustain the community gardens and urban farms that Green Heart creates and manages. (If desired, the soil can be earned back by the resident or business). We love that our employees can bring their compost from home, creating an even larger impact. The more the better! CompostNow picks up the bins which they provide, does all the heavy lifting, and records how much is being composted by weight. Composting helps combat climate change by decreasing the amount of methane emissions created by decomposing compostables in the landfill.  

For Future Generations

There has also been a beehive implemented at our Clements Crest location through the Bee Cause Project. One of our Hydroponic Farmers, Sophia Sergiadis is the Community Outreach and Events Coordinator for the Bee Cause project. The project strives to provide youth with opportunities to understand, engage, and learn from honey bees in order to connect with the natural environment while developing STEM skills. STEM is an education approach that focuses on Science, Technology, Education, Arts, and Mathematics. The vision of the project is to create a world in which future generations have the skills necessary to act as stewards of the natural environment through careers in STEAM. To date, The Bee Cause Project has provided hives for 300 schools in 50 states and 4 countries that are apart of the Bee Cause community. We are thrilled to be apart of this movement! If you have any questions or would like a hive tour you can directly email Sophia (sophia@verticalroots.com). There will be team-wide bee activities, information sessions, and volunteer opportunities in the future, so keep buzzing around and you’ll continue to learn from our awesome crew!

Stay tuned, there is always something new and exciting going on, we’ll keep you updated! Goodness grows inside!

Mary Bryan

Mary Bryan

Hydroponic Farmer

Mary studies Urban Sustainability at the College of Charleston. She’s on the board of Charleston Surf Rider Foundation as the Ocean-friendly Garden Coordinator and has been a member of the Vertical Roots family since 2018.