Sit down with: Vigeo Gardens (Akron, Ohio)
Vinny Peterson, Jacob Craine, and Mark Preston are the founders behind the luscious and beautiful Vigeo Gardens, in Akron, Ohio. Vigeo is home to 25 unique types of microgreens, 8 types of lettuce, and a variety of basil. All plants are grown hydroponically using a custom-designed system that Mark, Jacob, and Vinny built themselves. Vigeo’s growing materials are completely natural and organic — from the germination room, growing racks and light structure, to the efficient water reservoir. Their design was implemented with the intent of creating a sustainable and efficient growing system that could be implemented anywhere there is running water and electricity.
In addition to being non- GMO and pesticide/chemical free, Vigeo Gardens just announced that a plan is being implemented to become Ohio’s first indoor vertical farm that will produce zero waste and will leave no carbon footprint. I was recently invited to their lab located in the old BF Goodrich Tire plant downtown, and had the opportunity of touring their amazing facility. I also got to ask how three twenty-somethings in Ohio decided hydroponics was their calling….. and then made it a reality.
What made you think “Yeah, microgreens and hydroponics, that is it” and then make it happen?
Jacob starts to laugh and says “Vinny and I were both working in the restaurant industry while we were in school and we enjoyed working with the people and learned the industry inside and out, but hated the late hours.” Jacob explains how both he and Vinny both valued nutrition and stressed the importance of high quality food. Combining nutrition with an industry they were familiar with was the logical step. So while they were waiting tables, they refused to wait to make their idea a reality. Vinny and Jacob started growing vegetables in Jacob’s basement. Two and a half years later Vigeo Gardens is a fully functional hydroponic lab with 8 employees.
What was before Vigeo? What did you do?
Mark graduated college from the Ohio State University, then moved out of state to work directly in his field (aerospace engineering) but couldn’t find the satisfaction he was hoping for. He decided to come back to Ohio and pursue his passion for agriculture while combining the technical aspects he loved so much about engineering. Mark joined forces after meeting Jacob and Vinny through mutual acquaintances in the industry, and he has been a critical part to the rapid expansion Vigeo has experienced the last 2 years. Jacob and Vinny had both been in school and working as waiters before Vigeo was conceived. Vinny also bought and flipped houses in his spare time, and Jacob found himself managing part-time at the restaurant.
What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Jacob said, ” Taking an idea from a basement and dedicating our lives in order to make it a reality. It is hard to go from 1 to 10 in a business, but the hardest battle is going from from 0 to 1. ”
What’s something unique about your growing approach?
Mark says that Vigeo takes pride in using efficient techniques to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. Vigeo chose custom designed red and blue LED lights for their growing room because they are over 65% more efficient than the grow lights typically used. Take a look at Vigeo Gardens through their website: vigeogardens.com