Farm walls

Jamie Hoeft, Papa Joe Wesnitzer and Joseph Decker check in on the farm walls located at Smith Alley Brewing Company.

SHERIDAN — The farm walls have returned to Smith Alley with a brand-new look; once again transforming Smith Alley Brewing Company into an edible work of art. Rooted in Wyoming, Papa Joe’s Produce, Joseph Decker and Smith Alley will host an open house at the farm walls at Smith Alley June 24 between noon and 6 p.m. to learn more about the farm walls two unique aquaponic garden systems.

The farm walls at Smith Alley are a community sponsored project. Produce from the farm wall will be harvested by volunteers and donated to The Hub on Smith’s Grab n Go café. Locally designed and manufactured, the farm walls are built for the enjoyment and education of the community to encourage engagement, spark conversation about local food and provide produce to members of the community.

“The farm walls are the perfect addition to our downtown. They not only add beauty to the area, but also provide fresh, local produce that can be enjoyed by our community,” said Jodi Hartley with Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce. “The farm walls are a great example of how any community can enjoy locally produced foods in a small footprint, and we have received many comments at the Chamber from visitors who are so impressed with the beauty and creative focus on providing local foods.”

RiW brought the farm walls at Smith Alley to Sheridan in 2020 as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop grant-funded project through the Wyoming Business Council and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. Over the past two years the farm walls have become symbolic of summer at Smith Alley and downtown Sheridan, which led RiW to decide to continue the program at the close of those grants.

Based on what RiW and farm wall partners have learned in the past two years, they chose to partner with two local businesses, Papa Joe’s Produce and Joseph Decker on a new design that includes three vertical farm walls and two ebb and flow beds. Both are hydroponic growing systems that do not require soil. The ebb and flow beds are new this year. Also called a flood and drain system, this system is inexpensive to design, highly versatile and a reliable method to irrigate plants without soil.

“The beauty of this project has been the community collaboration that was required to bring it to fruition,” said Rooted in Wyoming’s Executive Director Jamie Hoeft. “It’s been fun engaging with people who stop by the wall as they are walking Main Street and are interested in learning about the systems. They share how much they enjoy the beauty and the relaxing sound of the walls, and most express interest in having one in their own home or office space.”

Smith Alley employees monitor the farm walls, fish and how people interact with the farm walls.

“The farm walls provide a great environment and aesthetic in the alley,” said Mike Browne, the managing partner of Smith Alley Brewing Company. “They spark curiosity and conversation while changing people’s concept of how produce can be grown. RiW is a great program that helps engage the community and it was a no-brainer for us to partner with them.”

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