The AquaTree EcoSprout

The Future of Indoor Gardening is Blooming

AquaTree™ is the first modular and approachable indoor gardening system of its kind to revolutionize your family and life.

Leading By Example

Our Local is a for-profit humanitarian initiative interested in the economic, social, and environmental benefit of society.


Our Local focuses on developing and scaling systemic changes through localized economic and social empowerment; incubating and accelerating ideas, inventions, organizations, and redeveloping communities.

The AquaTree

The AquaTree



 Incubating and accelerating an organization that is bringing an innovative consumer oriented aquaponics product to market.

HOW:  Our Local is providing structure, guidance, staff, connection to meaningful partners, and funding along with other necessary resources that align with Our Local’s mission.

~ Accelerate market entry.
~ Enable business growth and market acceptance and adoption.
~ Promote awareness and re-connection to chemical-free, fresh foods, and nutrition.
~ Promote education and awareness of sustainable, water-efficient, food production methods.

RESULTS TO DATE:  The AquaTree product has completed final design and production and proudly enters the market along side our Kickstarter campaign – years ahead of its original trajectory.  AquaTree is developing numerous partnerships that recognize the product’s ability to educate people about sustainable, water-efficient, food production methods and promote nutritional awareness while connecting people to nutritious chemical-free food.
The Varnadore Project

The Varnadore Project


UPDATE 7/20/2020: This project is fully funded! Along with 2 successful rezonings and designating the building as a Historical Site. However, we are still experiencing delays residing within the NCHPO. We encourage you to reach out to your state representative to help move this project forward.

WHAT: An initiative to redevelop properties at the corner of Independence Blvd. and Albemarle Road, cumulatively known as the Varnadore Property et. al.

HOW: The project would aspire to establish a campus-inspired and community-oriented business platform that would include: a cutting-edge, eco-friendly biotechnology research and development center focused on aquaponics, an aquaponics-based grocery garden where people could pick their own produce, community engagement spaces, educational environments (with programming accessible by the community), a 45,000 sq. ft. mixed use tower (the Varnadore Building) with an integrated LED technology component, featuring art, sponsorship, community and grass-roots communication, plans also include retail elements, a restaurant/cafe, a holistic health and wellness center, and an internationally supported, fully programmed, business incubator and accelerator that aligns education and real world training programs.  The LED installation would be something new for Charlotte and would not mimic a traditional billboard.  Nevertheless, it is a beautiful asset that is a necessary component to the project since it serves as a community binder and economic component that fuels an entire ecosystem.

STATUS: Ongoing

The viability of the project will remain under continual assessment as permitting, code, and zoning guidelines are fully determined.  Filing for a re-zoning or other action will not be attempted until two requirements have been met:
  1. The local community, the City of Charlotte, and Mecklenburg County must fully demonstrate that they desire the project.  This requirement will be met through a petition that is currently circulating and letters of support.
  2. It is determined that the project will not deteriorate because of zoning and permitting issues.  This requirement is currently being held under close scrutiny since existing code, zoning, and permitting guidelines do not have language to address the project’s unique components.

PART 1/3

PART 2/3




Eastland Mall Redevelopment

Eastland Mall Redevelopment


WHAT: Supported the launch of a grass-roots, community oriented, redevelopment initiative targeting the Eastland Mall site in Charlotte, NC.

HOW: Our Local provided consulting and community organization services, film documentation, and financial support; bringing together government organizations, business owners, community residents, and interest groups.  Working in partnership with the Latin American Economic Development Corporation, Pritzker Prize winner, Alejandro Aravena was brought to Charlotte to work with community stakeholders to find a good workable solution to revitalizing the distressed property and surrounding community.

GOALS: Phase I

~ Garner support from stakeholders.
~ Develop a socially oriented, problem solving, economically viable, community informed and supported vision for the site.
~ Provoke investment interest, involvement, and future action.

RESULT:  Mission accomplished for Phase I

East Corridor Redevelopment

East Corridor Redevelopment


WHAT: To redevelop and recycle a depressed and crumbling property asset into a productive and meaningful community asset.

HOW: Currently, Our Local is reaching out to its partners, surrounding residents, and relevant stakeholders to gain valuable input on how to best transform a decayed property into something that would be desirable and economically viable.

~ To improve the property by using an attractive, sustainable, and socially responsible business model.
~ To promote and otherwise physically manifest the vision of Our Local.

RESULTS TO DATE:  A target property is now under contract and community outreach has started.

100 Gardens

100 Gardens


WHAT:  Growing and promoting the mission of 100 Gardens:  To use aquaponics as an platform for experimental learning and sustainable means of food production for the future.

HOW:  Currently, Our Local is providing guidance, staff resources, and connection to meaningful partners along with other necessary resources that align with Our Local’s mission.

     ~To grow 100 Gardens as an organization and expand it’s impact, reach, and abilities.

RESULTS TO DATE:  100 Gardens is developing new meaningful partnerships, connections, and other valuable resources that will allow the organization to accelerate its evolution and fuel its growth.


Concerning the Varnadore Building and Surrounding Property



See what Charlotte’s community leaders have to say about our Varnadore initiative.

The current state of this property shrouds our voice in neglect and devalues our potential. This is not acceptable to us as a community. The modernized restoration of this icon as exhibited by Our Local will change the narrative on our part of the city and help restore East Charlotte as a highly valued part of the greater community.

Read the letter here.

East Charlotte Neighborhood Leaders

Today, there is an army of people from all walks of life and parts of the community working together to drive positive change in East Charlotte. From neighborhoods and businesses, to city staff and elected leaders, interest and potential are visibly surfacing and the area is rising out of survival mode.

Read the letter here.

Chris Mau – Co-Founder, Our Local – East Charlotte Resident

We believe that the efforts that you are doing in this project will be benficial to everyone living, working, and commuting to east Charlotte. There is a great need to revitalize this part of Charlotte and increase the property values of our well established neighborhoods.

Read the letter here.

Diane Langevin – President, Winterfield Neighborhood Association

When we speak about improving upward mobility within our city, it is done with projects like those being undertaken by organizations like Our Local. This redevelopment project and its vision of a “campus-inspired, community-oriented business platform” is greatly needed in Charlotte.

Read the letter here.

Gary Young, II – Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce

A business climate that permits Free Enterprise to grow and prosper can only be accomplished by the Citizens of the Community. 

Read the letter here.

Charles Ervin – Building’s Founder – Original Letter to Charlotte

We are happy that Our Local is working to redevelop the Varnadore building and surrounding property. Our neighborhood needs this project! Our neighborhood needs this project… We feel that this project not only improve the aesthetics of the corridor, but it will greatly improve the view from our front/back doors.

Read the letter here.

Residents of Windfield Drive

My family and I share the vision shown by Our Local and would like to see it realized in its entirety and not diminished. We are happy to see our father’s original concept preserved and evolved in a way that will once again act as a progressive beacon for Charlotte and as an asset that serves the community.

Read the letter here.

Suzanne Ervin – Daughter of Building’s Founder, Charles Ervin

Your efforts to engage the community demonstrates your commitment to collaboration, while the project itself demonstrates your commitment to ensuring quality economic development and expanding economic opportunity for our residents. The project as proposed will not only serve as a much needed catalyst for the corridor, it will at the same time provide long awaited amenities for local residents as well as visitors.

Read the letter here.

Mimi Davis – President, Grove Park

These currently vacant properties act as a buffer between Eastway-Sheffield Park and Independence Boulevard. Thus, Our Local’s plans to redevelop the historical properties would offer my neighborhood, East Charlotte and, most importantly, all of Charlotte an exciting opportunity to stand out on a world stage, demonstrating our city’s progressive attitude, agility, and forward thinking.

Read the letter here.

Carolyn Millen – President, Eastway-Sheffield Park




Support the Our Local initiative by filling out our online form and pledging your time and effort. And if you haven’t already, sign our petition about the Varnadore building.