A state grant will help the City of Ripon renovate a vacant former grocery store into an indoor urban vertical farm produce operation with the potential for retail operations and a future rooftop garden.
The $190,000 in funding from the Community Development Investment grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will support the expansion of Ernessi Farms’ urban vertical farm produce operation. Ernessi Farms sells products to local and regional grocery stores and restaurants.
With this expansion, the business is expected to more than double its produce output, with room to expand into new products and markets in the future. When the project is complete, Ernessi Farms will be the state’s largest indoor vertical farm.
“We’re incredibly excited to move forward with our expansion in historic downtown Ripon. Once complete, we’ll be able to offer our fresh, locally grown produce year-round to an expanded delivery area covering the whole state,” Ernessi Farms owner Bryan Ernst said in a news release.
Vertical farming uses technology to provide fresh and local produce to urban and rural areas that would otherwise have to transport large quantities of fresh produce over long distances Vertical farming often uses space in vacant buildings that may otherwise become problem areas for communities, and the Ernessi Farms example may inspire operations in other communities.
“A vibrant blend of businesses is vital to a community’s overall economic success, and the urban vertical farm redevelopment will serve as a catalyst for future development and investment in the Ripon community,” WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said in a news release.