Greg Kelly and Jake Isham have come a long way together since they met in 2016. At the time, Kelly, 61, was trying to grow lettuce in the basement of a mutual friend of his and Isham’s — and it was not going well.

“I was using LED lights, but I didn’t realize they wouldn’t grow at 50 degrees,” Kelly admitted. “I didn’t even grow house plants. I knew nothing.”

Their mutual friend soon introduced the pair because “neither of us would shut up about vertical farming,” Isham, 28, explained recently in the Barre headquarters of their 2-year-old company, Ceres Greens.

While the business partners have moved away from literal “vertical” farming, in which plants sprout out of tall planter walls often called “living walls,” their indoor farm still has a vertical, space-saving component and follows the same principles of hydroponic growing, or “controlled-environment agriculture,” as they call it.

By the end of this year, their converted 12,500-square-foot granite shed will hold about 100,000 leafy green plants on shelves layered eight high. The top layer will approach the 26-foot ceiling of the cement-floored industrial space, which evokes quite a different feeling than the average Vermont farm.

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