CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER & CO-FOUNDER
Nona is uniquely positioned in the Vertical Farming sphere as she is at once a practicing Architect, the Co-Founder, Owner, Designer and CEO of Vertical Harvest of Jackson Hole. This combination has cultivated expertise in both the design and implementation, and the operation of innovative systems and programs that position Vertical Harvest to be a model for communities around the globe.
In 2009, after 10 years of being a partner in the architecture firm E/Ye Design, Nona started work on Vertical Harvest Jackson Hole. Following her passion for local food and experiences growing up with a brother with developmental disabilities, Nona conceived of a three story hydroponic greenhouse that employs people with developmental disabilities while producing local food for the community year round. In 2016 Vertical Harvest opened its door as a 'for profit business with a non profit soul'. This flagship project embodies Nona’s efforts to pursue projects that are able to have a profound impact on communities based on architectural, economic and social innovation.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Currently serving as Vertical Harvest’s CFO, Arik Griffin was impressed with the concept and scope of Vertical Harvest from its inception. As a board member and advisor since 2009, he has witnessed the impact of Vertical Harvest’s social mission and the tremendous community support behind it. In addition to providing financial oversight, Arik works with management staff to ensure operations are continuously improving.
A graduate of the Ohio State University with a BA in English, Arik worked for Merrill Lynch in New York City before attending Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and receiving his MBA. He spent six years in marketing for Gateway Computers before he and his family decided to cut ties with the corporate world and move to Jackson Hole in 2004. A fun and educational gig with a local ski-film company was followed by a COO position for a Jackson based media and publishing firm. In 2012, Arik founded a small web development company.
With an eye to vertical farming’s obvious potential to revolutionize agriculture and local sustainability, and a profound belief in Vertical Harvest’s social missions, Arik decided to shut down his private business and join the Vertical Harvest team full time. Arik’s free time is spent with his family reading great books, eating fantastic food, and unsuccessfully trying to convince his kids that camping is less fun than playing guitar.
CAROLINE CROFT ESTAY
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CULTIVATE
Caroline Croft Estay is the Interim Executive Director of CULTIVATE at Vertical Harvest. Caroline facilitates teaching and training of the “Grow Well Employment Model” through innovative techniques and modalities. Caroline has been involved with Vertical Harvest since 2009, sharing her passion to create meaningful employment to an underserved population as well as educating her community about the incorporation of the “Employment First Initiative.”
After graduating in 1999 from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Psychology and Education she moved to Jackson Hole. Caroline has worked as an Independent Living Provider, assisting at risk youth and as a Case Manager and Provider for the Behavioral Health Division of Wyoming, specializing in care for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. In her free time, Caroline enjoys Teton adventures with her husband, two dogs and four kids.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia - Sam came across Vertical Harvest through an online article . With goals centered around the betterment of global agriculture through sustainable and innovative systems it was love at first sight! Sam pursued us for months from across the pond and after coming over for a trial period quickly became part of our core team.
Sam has an Agricultural Science degree (majoring in Animal Production) from the University of New England. After spending some time working in production Sam trading in the boots and jeans for a pair of heels and entered the agribusiness space. Before joining our team Sam worked as a regional manager for an online grain trading platform and as a national sales manager in an agricultural plastics business.
EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING DIRECTOR
Joelle Lazzareschi is the Education Associate. She works alongside the Interim Director of CULTIVATE to train and manage employees. Joelle grew up in a tight knit community in North Lake Tahoe, California, where she developed a strong appreciation for the mountain lifestyle. After graduating high school, she traveled to Thailand through a rotary exchange program. Her time in Thailand nurtured her love of cooking and food production, inspiring her to complete a BS degree in Agroecology and Environmental Education at UC Berkeley. She is drawn to agriculture by her interest in botany, her love of community, and her passion for preparing nurturing, delicious food. In 2013 Joelle moved to Jackson with the dream of growing food in the mountains, and is overwhelmingly excited to be working with Vertical Harvest.
Emily Churchill is the Senior Grower at Vertical Harvest overseeing all lettuce and microgreen production. Emily began volunteering at Vertical Harvest shortly after she moved to Wyoming in the spring of 2016, and officially joined the team the following fall as a manager.
Growing up on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York, Emily has always been deeply connected to rivers and freshwater. She worked for seven seasons at the Thousand Islands Biological Station, researching fisheries and developing her love for hands-on field work, data collection and data analysis. Her interest in sustainable agriculture is partially because of its ability to dramatically reduce water usage and agricultural runoff into natural ecosystems. After earning a BS in Biology from Boston College, Emily stayed in Boston for a year to complete an urban education fellowship teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at a charter school, hoping to inspire environmental advocacy in future generations. From there she moved to Wyoming.
Emily was drawn to Vertical Harvest because of its unique mission, which combines her three passions: environmental biology, education, and social justice. Urban agriculture and local food are her new obsessions.
SENIOR GROWER - VINING CROPS
Growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona Kai has always enjoyed the outdoors. He was fortunate to spend my summers rafting the San Juan River and Skiing the San Francisco Peaks in the winters. He attended UofA and NAU and discovered a passion for growing plants, then spent the next four years taking care of plants with Foliage Unlimited and continued to learn more about plants and growing.
Kai found Vertical Harvest through a social media post that was unveiling a vertical greenhouse in Jackson Hole. High altitude farming had always fascinated him, so he applied for an internship at the greenhouse. Kai arrived in Jackson near the end of November of 2016. Not only was he given an opportunity to work in a state of the art greenhouse, but he would be able to live in an area known for its great outdoors. He was also very inspired to be at Vertical Harvest because of its social mission.
Kai is so grateful to be part of Vertical Harvest. It has created so much opportunity for Kai professionally, socially, and recreationally. He is excited to keep progressing in this industry and look forward to exploring more of the great outdoors in the National Parks that Wyoming provides.
Local and sustainable agriculture has always been a passion for Chris. With a background in all things food related as well as owning a small construction company, Vertical Harvest is the perfect fit.
After graduating from the University of Colorado in 2009, Chris moved out to Jackson to be a chef at a small boutique hotel. The quick immersion into the local food scene quickly led to him starting a small food production company, working as a food writer, and becoming manager of the local farmers market. Looking to diversify his talents, Chris began working in the construction fields shortly after moving to to the valley and in 2014 started his own small construction and remodel company called Hemlock Builders LLC.
Chris is a firm believer that the work-life balance starts with loving where you are. In addition to being excited to be part of the Vertical Harvest team, Chris loves backpacking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and eating delicious food at all points in between.