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AppHarvest ripe to ‘transform the region’: High-tech greenhouse opens in Rowan County

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 10:49 AM EDT
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MOREHEAD, Ky. (WYMT) - An idea that was planted in the region in 2017 is now showing fruit. AppHarvest hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, officially opening its Morehead facility.

The 2.76 million square foot greenhouse is slated to employ more than 300 people in its high-tech facility, growing its first harvest of Appalachian tomatoes, which the company expects to be ready by 2021. With plans to do so in a sustainable way that uses 90 percent less water.

According to a statement from the company, the mission of AppHarvest is to “represent a stark change to the existing American food system,” by showing that food that is often imported can be grown right here in your own backyard. Something AppHarvest President and CEO Jonathan Webb said is especially important now.

“It’s far past time for American agriculture to change,” Webb said in a statement. “The pandemic has revealed just how fragile our food system is, and we’re working at the forefront of changing so much that’s wrong with the status quo.”

In a statement, local officials voiced excitement for the opening.

“I believe AppHarvest’s farm will be transformational for our region,” said Rowan County Judge-Executive Harry Clark. “The investment that AppHarvest has made in this project, and is making in its workers, is admirable and shows why everyone is so excited to join the company.”

Morehead Mayor Laura White-Brown said AppHarvest was already a fruitful investment before the greenhouse opened Wednesday.

“It has been incredible to watch how AppHarvest has united our community, Morehead State University, and the Rowan County campus of Maysville Community and Technical College,” said Brown. “AppHarvest’s investment in education has been tremendous, from purchasing a high-tech container farm for our high school students to connecting our university with leading AgTech universities in The Netherlands.”

Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting signaled the opening of the first in a series of planned high-tech spaces that company representatives say are designed to redefine agriculture with non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free crops. The second of those planned spaces broke ground this week in Richmond.

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