cover art for Nona Yehia and Caroline Croft Estay: Vertical Harvest

Consensus in Conversation

Nona Yehia and Caroline Croft Estay: Vertical Harvest

Season 1, Ep. 1

Today we're talking with Nona Yehia and Caroline Croft Estay. These two, along with co-founder Penny McBride, built Vertical Harvest, a vertical farm that helps address food security, sustainability, and workforce development in what some may consider an unlikely place: Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 

From designing a three story greenhouse, which looks a little bit like glass shipping containers stacked on top of one another, filled with rows and rows of floating greens, to turning community skeptics into their biggest champions and challenging traditional expectations and limitations on the disabled community. They found just the right way to change the world by building a great business.

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  • 25. Jamila Norman of Patchwork City Farms on Urban Farming, Food Advocacy, and Good Food

    Today’s episode features Jamila Norman, owner and founder of Patchwork City Farms, star of the urban farming show Homegrown, and, most importantly, a farmer at heart. Jamila, also called Farmer J, started Patchwork City Farms (PCF) in 2010 after recognizing a need for more locally available, accessible produce and food in the Atlanta area. Jamila has led PCF with one approach in mind: grow sustainable produce in the city, for the city, and educate others while doing it. Her passion for urban farming and food advocacy led to Homegrown, a show on the Magnolia Network where Jamila helps families turn their outdoor spaces into functional farms while sharing the benefits of growing one's own food.  Jamila is all about helping others, and she's quite good at it. But she's also a successful founder, farmer, and food advocate. If you're seeking answers on how to inspire others, help your community, grow a business, or just need some inspiration, this episode is a must listen. Timestamps:0:01: Cold Open with Jamila Norman || 0:42: Intro on Jamila, Patchwork City Farms || 2:31: Background || 4:37: Environmental Influences || 6:12: School, Early Career || 11:23: Urban Farming, Growth || 18:46: Stories, Lessons Learned || 23:29: Farmers, Markets || 27:05: What’s Next at Patchwork || 29:48: Homegrown, Magnolia || 34:27: Doing Good For Others || 38:29: Motivation, Inspiration || 42:09: End Credits || More from the episode:Follow Jamila on Instagram @patchworkcityfarms or check their link tree.Connect with Conor on LinkedIn. You can stream seasons 1-3 of Homegrown on Discovery+ and Max.
  • 24. Forrest North and Jason Marks of TELO Trucks on EVs, Mini Pickups, and Autonomous Tech

    Today’s guests are TELO Trucks founders Forrest North and Jason Marks. The founders offer expert insights into the current (and future) EV landscape and share how TELO’s compact electric trucks maximize efficiency with a revolutionary design.Jason, TELO’s CEO, is a former collegiate pole vaulter who spent his early career at National Instruments developing systems tests for U.S. automakers as Chief Business Development Manager. Forrest, the company’s CTO, worked on the early Tesla team before founding electric motor startup Mission Motors. He later founded and sold Plugshare, the number one EV charging app, before launching TELO with Jason in 2022. Listen now on your favorite podcast platform. After all, we’re talking about mini electric pickup trucks!! Episode Timestamps:00:32 Intro on TELO, Guests ||  02:22 Forrest’s Background, Bio ||  08:57 Jason’s Background, Bio ||  14:41 Maurice Olley’s Influence ||  15:47 Origin Story of TELO Trucks ||  19:47 What Makes TELO Unique ||  26:52 The Electric Vehicle Industry ||  32:01 Doing Good and Sustainability ||  36:28 The Future, Conclusion ||  37:05 End Credits || Episode Resources / Links:More on TELO Trucks → Jason on LinkedIn → Forrest on LinkedIn → Conor on LinkedIn →
  • 23. Jay Bellows of KORE Power on Renewable Energy, Storage, and Basketball Wisdom

    Today’s guest is Jay Bellows, President of KORE Power, a vertically-integrated energy storage company focusing on grid reliability and renewable energy sources. Jay previously led Northern Reliability, a leader in distributed energy storage, as CEO and President from 2013-2022. After merging NRI with KORE Power and taking the reins, Jay now oversees an impressive list of innovations, technological advances, and market success. He shares his thoughts on the transition to renewable energy, explains why storing energy is so vital, and offers valuable insights into how he has aligned profit with purpose.  Speaking of energy, Jay brings a lot of it to the conversation. Listen now on your favorite podcast platform!Episode Timestamps: 00:31 Intro on Jay and KORE Power // 02:14 Background and Growing Up // 03:32 What Jay Does At KORE // 07:05 Energy Industry Growth // 11:28 Northern Reliability (NRI) // 12:24 Nomad Power Project // 16:50 KORE Initiatives and Programs // 21:20 Domestic Energy Production and Storage // 25:10 Growth at KORE Power // 30:09 Basketball and Coaching // 33:11 Optimism and Motivation // 37:32 End Credits // More from the episode:Company Website → Company Social → Guest Social → Conor Social → 
  • 22. Damon Barron: Carolina Urban Lumber

    This week’s guest is Damon Barron, founder and president of Carolina Urban Lumber, a timber company that turns wood waste heading for landfills into high quality furniture.Trees absorb a lot of carbon, but if those trees are cut down and go unused, wasted sitting in landfills, they degrade, end up in landfills, and release that same carbon back into the atmosphere, harming the environment. By diverting those carbon-filled, ‘wasted’ trees away from landfills and turning them into furniture, Damon’s company saves (literal) tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. Carolina Urban Lumber’s core mission is rooted in sustainability, and it’s no accident. Damon, an industry veteran, started the business after seeing how wood waste ends up in landfills. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure… let’s find out! More from the episode:Check out Carolina Urban Lumber online →  Connect with Damon on LinkedIn → Connect with our host, Conor, on LinkedIn → Stamps!0:00:04 Cold Open0:00:41 Introduction, Background0:04:34 First Job, Wood Industry0:07:38 Career Before to Modern Meadow0:11:00 Origin of Carolina Urban Lumber 0:18:28 The Problem and Solution0:23:53 Sustainability0:30:14 Legacy, Future Impact0:32:51 End Credits
  • 21. Catherine Roggero-Lovisi: Modern Meadow

    This week’s guest is Catherine Roggero-Lovisi, CEO of the bio-design technology company Modern Meadow. Founded in 2011, these researchers and scientists are using nature-inspired proteins to develop sustainable materials and products for fashion, beauty, and other industries, like biomaterial alternatives to leather!After leadership roles at L’Oréal, Christian Louboutin, and Revlon Inc, Catherine joined Modern Meadow as President and COO in 2021. She became CEO in 2022, and she’s using her global consumer goods expertise to push the company to new heights. Catherine brings a refreshing perspective to the conversation. If you’re interested in valuable takeaways from her leadership roles at prior beauty companies, how Modern Meadow is innovating the biofabrication industry, how to align purpose and profits, or what the future of material science holds, you’ll get all of that and more. Listen now on all major podcast platforms!More from the episode:Modern Meadow on LinkedIn → || Catherine on LinkedIn → || Conor on LinkedIn → || Episode time stamps:00:00:04 Cold Open00:00:52 Introduction 00:02:34 Background and Early Influences00:07:38 Career Before to Modern Meadow00:14:56 Modern Meadow00:25:58 Sustainability and Science00:36:52 An Industry-Wide View00:42:40 Aligning Profit and Purpose00:45:30 What’s Next?00:51:24 End Credits
  • 20. Alfred Johnson: Crux Climate

    Alfred Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder of Crux Climate, a software startup revolutionizing clean energy tax credit management, is this week’s guest. Alfred is well-suited to break down clean energy tax incentives, share founders' lessons, and talk about the rapidly growing clean energy market, which is expected to receive $3 billion in investments over the next decade. Alfred is a Stanford grad who worked for the U.S. Treasury Department and BlackRock before launching his first software company with co-founder Allen Kramer. That company was acquired in 2020, leaving Alfred and Allen ready for their next adventure. And, in 2023, they launched Crux Climate. The software startup is developing online solutions that let organizations buy and sell tax credits for clean energy, a business that is likely to boom following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Alfred and Crux Climate are in the midst of a new and ever-growing industry. Whether it’s hearing about how he came up with the idea for Crux, what the next few years of regulation might hold, or how to find a co-founder that you stick with for more than one company, you’ll want to tune in! Listen now on all major podcast platforms. More from the episode:Crux Website → Crux on LinkedIn → Alfred on LinkedIn → Conor on LinkedIn → Time Stamps!1:10 Introduction2:56 Background and Early Career14:18 Crux Climate26:00 New Asset Class34:27 ESG, Profits, and Sustainability40:07 Legacy and Future45:53 Conclusion and End Credits
  • 19. Chris Clark: Georgia Chamber of Commerce

    Named one of The Peach State’s most influential leaders, Chris Clark, President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, joins us to talk clean manufacturing, the CEO Imperative, and The Georgia Way, for the first ever live recording of Consensus in Conversation, at our recent event: Southern Surge: Next Generation Manufacturing Summit. Next-gen clean energy manufacturing is already driving powerful economic growth in Georgia and throughout the South, while also delivering positive impacts for the planet. With a commitment to building the American workforce and strengthening local communities, business environments that prioritize people, planet, and profit are gaining a competitive advantage in attracting the most innovative companies and their transformational investments. Chris preaches the opportunity, and imperative, for corporate leaders to be servant-hearted and to build purpose-driven organizations. Beyond the power of businesses to make the world a better place, this approach also attracts the best young talent, whose contributions are essential for long-term growth. Yet again, corporate stewardship and profits coincide. Chris has a long and distinguished career in public service, including serving as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Economic Development. His new book - The CEO Imperative: Faith Based Service in a Toxic World - challenges the status quo in business leadership narratives by illustrating the values that executives can and should adopt to help address society's biggest problems. Additionally, his TEDx encourages the corporate community to be servant-hearted– leading with character, purpose, and love– with broader ambitions to create a better world for future generations.After you listen to the podcast, buy Chris’ book here and watch his TED Talk. More from the episode:Georgia Chamber on LinkedIn Chris on LinkedInConor on LinkedIn Episode Timestamps:00:00 A Special Live Edition of Consensus in Conversation01:28 Introducing Chris Clark02:28 Servant-Hearted Leadership 07:34 The Georgia Way and Attracting Clean Manufacturing Investments13:40 Georgia's History of Conscious Capitalism 15:40 The Three Pillars of the New Georgia Economy: A Future-Focused Strategy17:32 Inspiring a Youthful Workforce30:35 End CreditsOur conversation took place on stage at Southern Surge: Next Generation Manufacturing Summit, bringing together political leaders, industry executives, economic development officials, and local stakeholders to discuss the recent announcements of new production facilities for electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and microchips. And, it wouldn’t have been possible without our partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, as well as event support from American Clean Power, Bipartisan Policy Center, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, and Electric Drive Transportation Association. For more information, check out  
  • 18. Jenny Du: Apeel Sciences

    Jenny Du just wants to make sure we all eat our veggies. This PhD, entrepreneur, innovator and scientist is this week’s Consensus in Conversation guest! She is the co-founder and SVP of Operations at Apeel Sciences, a food innovation company that’s raised more than $700M in funding to date with its simple yet revolutionary idea: put a protective layer, or peel, around produce to keep them fresher, longer. Jenny shares her unique path to entrepreneurship, the origin story of Apeel, how they’re helping curb food waste, and what they’re working on today; all while breaking down the complex science at its core (in a digestible manner). More from the episode:Apeel WebsiteApeel on LinkedIn Jenny Du on LinkedIn  Conor Gaughan on LinkedIn Episode Timestamps:0:00 How Material Science is Giving Produce a New Life00:52 Introducing Jenny Du11:50 Entrepreneurs, Founders, and Imposter Syndrome 15:55 Starting a Company to End Food Waste19:02 Deconstructing Tomatoes to Unlock a Solution 22:06 How the Supply Chain Ends in Food Waste34:48 Next Up - Nature-Based Innovations40:38 End Credits
  • 17. Chris Wood: Trout Unlimited

    President and CEO of Trout Unlimited (TU), Chris Wood loves a good outdoor adventure. A longtime conservationist and angler, his dedication to the natural world is inspiring, whether he’s talking environmental policy, Aldo Leopold, Trout Unlimited, or… fishing. Trout Unlimited is a nonprofit working to protect salmon and trout while keeping America’s fisheries and freshwater rivers healthy. With over 300,000 members, TU is upending traditional conceptions of conservation by including everyone in their restorative efforts, supporting thousands of coldwater conservation projects across the country. Listen now on your favorite podcast platform. More from Chris and Trout Unlimited: Trout Unlimited Website | Trout Unlimited on LinkedIn | Chris Wood on LinkedInFollow Conor and Consensus Digital Media on LinkedIn to stay up to date.Episode Timestamps: 0:04 Public Lands in America0:52 Intro & Background 7:36 Bureau of Land Management17:04 Trout Unlimited33:54 Conservation, Nature 39:36 Optimism & The Future41:42 End Credits