Construction has begun on a vertical farm in Westbrook.
Construction is officially underway on a vertical farm in Westbrook that's set to change part of the city's landscape. Credit: Courtesy of Vertical Harvest / CBS 13

Construction is officially underway on a vertical farm in Westbrook that’s set to change part of the city’s landscape.

The project on William Clarke Drive and Mechanic Street will include a parking garage and an apartment complex with 40 to 60 apartments. There will also be a climate-controlled farm created by a company called Vertical Harvest.

The indoor farm will reportedly help grow the local food economy by growing food that isn’t grown in the state during the winter.

Vertical Harvest CEO Nona Yehia said the farm will produce over 2 million pounds of microgreens each year for restaurants, schools, and hospitals.

Yehia also plans for 40 percent to 50 percent of employees at the Westbrook location to be people with physical and intellectual disabilities, focusing on ability and not inability.

“It will never take the place of traditional agriculture, but it can supplement it. It takes out the pressures of the environment and creates a controlled environment within a protected space,” Yehia said.

Those environmental pressures can include anything from droughts to harsh winters.

“The hydroponic business is going to put the city on the map. For this type of development in Maine, as it costs more and more money to develop farmland, hydroponics is going to be the way of the future for growing produce,” Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley said.

Vertical Harvest said the farm will open in fall 2023.