Sam Norton

Sam Norton

Founder & CEO

Heron Farms

Charleston, SC USA

You don't get all the good, fun parts of running a start-up and providing a new product without all of the downsides. The downsides are more frequent but the upsides are more fun and they ultimately win out at the end of the day.


By Roadtrip Nation

Sam Norton


My road in life has been direct.
I grew up on one of the barrier islands outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
I went to college as a political science major.
While studying the political ramifications of climate change, I saw that the big political and social problems of this century are going to play themselves out in the environmental arena.
Realizing that the two dominant environmental problems are excess carbon dioxide and rising sea water levels, I began studying salt-tolerant plants called halophytes.
I continued studying halophytes in graduate school through the environmental studies program.
As a graduate student, I started questioning why underwater agriculture projects would stop working after a few years.
After discovering the main issues preventing those underwater agriculture projects from being successful long-term, I presented an indoor model as a solution.
Using that indoor model, I founded Heron Farms, the world’s first indoor saltwater vertical farm.
Keep following my journey


Founder & CEO

I founded and lead the world's first indoor saltwater vertical farm.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Environment & Nature
Problem Solving

Day to Day

My mornings start with a lot of emails. Then I'll spend the rest of the day moving from team to team to help everyone succeed in their work. I'll go from the grow team to the logistics team to the sales team to answer any questions and help problem solve for each team. I also typically manage relationships with our largest customers, investors, and potential investors.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

Trade work is a great route to go for the vertical farming space because every indoor or greenhouse farm needs someone that can do plumbing and electrical work. These farms have very complicated plumbing and electrical systems, so a "plumtrician" is very valuable here. On the flip side, plant science is always a great way to get into this field. Additionally, indoor farming systems are monitored and manipulated by software, so a computer science background is also beneficial.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"People are relying on me. What if I can't do this? How are we ever going to succeed?"

Challenges I Overcame

Alcohol or Drug Use