S3E32: Nona Yehia & Caroline Croft Estay - Empowering the Underserved
Vertical Farming PodcastApril 30, 2021x
01:00:1855.25 MB

S3E32: Nona Yehia & Caroline Croft Estay - Empowering the Underserved

Episode Summary

Join Harry Duran, host of Vertical Farming Podcast, as he welcomes to the show co-founders of Vertical Harvest, Nona Yehia and Caroline Croft Estay. An architect and entrepreneur, Nona conceptualized and built Vertical Harvest, the first vertical hydroponic greenhouse in the world. Combining her expertise in behavioral health and experience in training and case management, Caroline crafted and implemented the innovative “Grow Well” employee model at Vertical Harvest. In today’s episode, Harry, Nona and Caroline discuss the inspirational work they are doing to bring architectural, economic, and social innovation to communities nationwide. Their mission is to bring meaningful employment to underserved populations and educate communities on how good jobs help differently abled individuals to thrive.

Episode Sponsor


Key Takeaways

  • 03:05 – Harry welcomes to the show, Nona Yehia and Caroline Croft Estay, who share the story of how they met and the work they’re doing at Vertical Harvest
  • 09:27 – The origin story of Vertical Harvest
  • 15:39 – Caroline talks about her vision for diversity and inclusion at Vertical Harvest
  • 19:22 – How Nona and Caroline became ‘unexpected farmers’
  • 24:07 – Caroline talks about the ‘Grow Well’ model they’ve developed at Vertical Harvest
  • 28:02 – Caroline and Nona reflect on the passion they share for working with those with disabilities
  • 35:44 – Nona talks about a powerful life lesson she learned early on
  • 37:51 – Caroline shares why her father was such an influential person in her life
  • 41:01 – Nona and Caroline talk about the importance of representation in the vertical farming industry
  • 49:43 – What excites Nona and Caroline the most about the future of Vertical Harvest
  • 56:33 – A little known fact about Nona and Caroline
  • 58:34 – Harry thanks Nona and Caroline for joining the show and let’s listeners know where they can learn more about Vertical Harvest and connect with Nona and Caroline

Tweetable Quotes

“We like to say at Vertical Harvest that necessity is the mother of invention. And it does bring people together to think innovatively, as Caroline has always done, and to come together to really focus on solutions.” (06:17)

“When it was just about food, I was like, ‘This is a cool idea. I’m excited to be a part of it.’ But when it was about food and futures, something that is so personal to me and to so many people in our country, it really became a must. It wasn’t an option anymore; we had to follow through on it.” (08:35)

“We’re talking about things that aren’t typically talked about in a workplace all the time. And we’re talking about it with an inclusive, integrated workforce, which is even more mind-blowing.” (25:16)

“We say, ‘different abilities’ and ‘people with disabilities.’ And I want to explain that. This summer we were really digging into our language and labels and I thought, ‘why am I picking what it is. I’m gonna poll all of our employees with disabilities, which do you prefer being called?’ And it was a fifty-fifty split.” (29:20)

“If you take the time, if you slow down, if you pay attention, everybody can teach you something.” (32:14)

“What is equity for people, whether it is disabilities or people of color? where are these barriers? They’re everywhere.” (45:41)

“What we are doing at Vertical Harvest has the potential to change so many lives, and not in the warm and fuzzy feeling way. It’s a solution for a history of inequities, and no opportunities, and keeping people victimized.” (52:44)

Links Mentioned

Nona’s LinkedIn

Caroline’s LinkedIn

Vertical Harvest Website

Vertical Harvest Facebook

Vertical Harvest Instagram

Sponsor Info:

Cultivatd Website

Cultivatd Instagram

Cultivatd’s Twitter

Cultivatd’s Facebook


Podcast Production and Marketing by FullCast: https://bit.ly/3sxZ34y

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.