High-tech greenhouse developer AppHarvest just opened the world’s largest indoor farm in Kentucky, creating 300 full-time permanent jobs.
The 2.76-million square foot controlled environment agriculture facility is based in Morehead, Eastern Kentucky. A region where unemployment is 44 percent higher than the national average. AppHarvest aims to develop this area into an agricultural technology hub.
“Eastern Kentucky, with its central U.S. location, provides the perfect place to build AppHarvest’s indoor farms,” said Johnathan Webb, the founder and CEO of AppHarvest. “While also providing much needed jobs to a ready workforce.”
AppHarvest combines agriculture with cutting edge technology to promote sustainable change within the industry. The new indoor farm drastically reduces the land needed to increase food production. It uses no pesticides and no GMO products.
All water needs are met exclusively by a closed-loop, recycled rainwater system. This also minimizes the water runoff unavoidable with traditional agricultural methods. Overall, AppHarvest’s sustainable greenhouses use 90 percent less water than other farming.
“It’s time for agriculture in America to change,” continued Webb. “The pandemic has demonstrated the need to establish more resilient food systems, and our work is on the forefront of that effort.”
The Future of Farming
In addition to job creation, the new farm’s location will also reduce production costs and carbon emissions.
Morehead is less than one day’s drive from 70 percent of the U.S. population. This means a reduction in diesel fuel costs by 80 percent and allows for more competitive pricing against low-cost foreign imports.
AppHarvest recently closed on its $28 million Series C round of fundraising, making a total of over $150 million in just two years. The company has also expanded its board to include investor and author J.D. Vance, Rise of the Rest Seed Fund partner Anna Mason, and AOL co-founder Steve Case.
Impossible Foods CEO and plant-based food proponent David Lee and lifestyle icon and keen vegetable gardener Martha Stewart also sit on the AppHarvest board. Stewart said: “The future of food will be, has to be, growing nutrient-rich and delicious produce closer to where we eat.”
“That means food that tastes better and food that we feel better about consuming,” she added. “AppHarvest is driving us towards that future and working from within Appalachia to elevate the region.”