AppHarvest started construction on a second high-tech controlled environment agriculture Central Appalachia facility located in Madison County, Kentucky. The farm, when complete, will exceed 60 acres.
The indoor facility will grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free fruits and vegetables to be distributed to U.S. grocers and restaurants. Because of the company’s strategic location in Appalachia, AppHarvest can reach nearly 70% of Americans in just a day’s drive, reducing transportation costs by up to 80% compared to existing growers in Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.
Located on nearly 250 acres, the company said the facility will double AppHarvest's growing space in Central Appalachia. AppHarvest will open its flagship farm, a 2.76-million-square-foot facility growing tomatoes, this month in nearby Morehead, Kentucky. These two facilities will play a major role in AppHarvest’s efforts to establish itself as the leader in America’s AgTech space, company officials said.
“This purchase brings us one step closer to our goal of establishing America's next AgTech hub from right here in Appalachia,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb.
The company said its greenhouses are designed to reduce water usage by 90% compared to traditional open-field agriculture due to unique irrigation systems connected with large-scale rainwater retention ponds. The system is designed to eliminate harmful agricultural runoff, which contributes to toxic algae blooms.
According to company officials, Strong relationships with leading AgTech universities and companies in the Netherlands position AppHarvest as a leading applied technology agriculture company. The Netherlands has developed a significant high-tech greenhouse industry, becoming the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter despite having a land mass roughly equal in size to Eastern Kentucky. Earlier this year, AppHarvest led a landmark 17-organization agreement uniting Dutch and Kentucky governments, universities, and private companies, with all committing to building America's AgTech capital from within Appalachia.
Eastern Kentucky University President David McFaddin said, “we are excited to welcome AppHarvest to our community. The work in AgTech they are doing in Eastern Kentucky has generated excitement among our community schools and citizens. I look forward to forging partnerships with AppHarvest that will provide new outlets for our students to gain hands-on experience with the latest techniques in farming.”
In just over two years, AppHarvest said it has attracted more than $150 million in investment into Central Appalachia and announced on September 29 a definitive agreement for a business combination with publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company Novus Capital Corporation. The combination, which is expected to close late in the fourth quarter of 2020 or early in the first quarter of 2021, will provide $475 million of gross proceeds to the company, including $375 million fully committed common stock PIPE at $10.00 per share anchored by existing and new investors – including Fidelity Management & Research Company, LLC, Inclusive Capital, and Novus Capital Corporation.