LAST UPDATED ON 28 DECEMBER 2014
The December issue of “NWI Innovators of the Month” highlights Robert Colangelo, Founding Farmer/CEO, Green Sense Farms and a 2014-2015 Fellow; and Caroline Olah, president, Little Viper and a 2014 – 2015 Member of The Society. This issue is designed for the media serving Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke Counties. The Society celebrates Fellows, Chanute Prize and Accelerating Greatness recipients, but also recognizes new Members of “The 2 – 2015 Class.” The Society is part of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest. For information, contact O’Merrial Butchee, Director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at (219) 981-4942, or John Davies, Assistant Director, at (219) 981-1111, Ext. 2292.
Green Sense Farms blazes new paths as largest indoor commercial vertical farm growing food “faster, cheaper, better” at Ameriplex!
When describing the innovation of Green Sense Farms, Robert Colangelo, Founding Farmer/CEO, said, “Our innovation comes in two ways.” First, it is structured to be a triple bottom line company. “We wanted to create an environment that is good for people, good for the planet and also makes a profit,” Colangelo said, who co-founded the 30,000 sq. ft. vertical farm along with Carl Wenz. Secondly, the innovation is growing food faster, better, and cheaper.
“We haven’t developed food, just a better way to grow it.” Called the largest commercial indoor vertical farm in the U.S. and the largest user of LED grow lights, Green Sense Farms is blazing new paths. “We think it’s a myth that a vertical farm only has to be close to the consumer.” Rather, he said, a vertical farm needs to be close to distribution centers next to large urban areas. “Our goal is to be nationally known and locally grown with a network of vertical farms that move food short distances to market.” Opened in April of 2014 after two years of construction, Green Sense Farms is located close to 20 million people within a 100 mile radius. “Whole Foods distribution is 30 minutes down the road in Munster, with our products being delivered to 48 stores in eight states.”
Also, the farm is close to Strack & Van Til, with 38 stores in Illinois and Indiana. Located at Ameriplex, the farm has two grow rooms for micro greens, baby greens, culinary herbs and gourmet lettuces. The farm also serves high end restaurants. For information, visit greensensefarms.com.
Little Viper is the world’s first and only fashion pepper spray self-defense bracelet!
Inspired by concern for the safety of her two teenage daughters, Caroline Olah invented the world’s first and only fashion pepper spray self-defense bracelet that is now commercially available called “Little Viper.” In addition to print media and Chicago news programs, she was the first to be featured on a “Made by Moms” segment on Steve Harvey’s national tv program.
With daughters Grace now 13 and Claire, 16, Ms. Olah and her husband Jason live near Lakes of the Four Seasons. It was during 2012 that she invented the bracelet because she saw a huge need, and a year later she got a patent. Her light bulb moment came when she provided her daughters a commercially available pepper spray. But it often ended up out of reach, in a pocket or purse! So she came up with a fashionable wearable technology that “packed a punch.”
First, she submitted her idea to a major U.S. pepper spray brand. When turned down, she decided to do it herself! She made some sketches and contacted a website that features freelancers to design a prototype. An entrepreneur at heart, she had run her own sports eyewear company. So she had experience working with manufacturers in China, where the bracelet is made. The bracelet also has a canister made in Taiwan inserted into the silicone band. Launched during 2013, Little Viper weighs one ounce, contains 3 to 6 bursts with a three ft. range, and is available in black and pink models. “Little Viper is designed to be ready at a moment’s notice,” she said. It is available by going to www. LittleViper.Com.