Special to The Register

As a part of the Central Appalachia expansion, AppHarvest — a greenhouse company focused on sustainable agriculture — announced the construction of their third high-tech facility in the region to be located in the city of Berea. 

According to a press release from AppHarvest, the site will be about 15 acres and will be located out on Farristown Road.

It is estimated the venture will bring over 100 jobs to the area. 

“The city of Berea is thrilled to welcome AppHarvest to our community,” said Mayor Bruce Fraley. “Throughout the site selection process, it has become clear to me that Berea is a perfect fit for AppHarvest, and AppHarvest is a perfect fit for our city. We are very glad to be part of a truly revolutionary movement in AgTech.” 

The indoor facility will grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free leafy greens 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. American production is concentrated in Arizona and California, which combine to grow 90% of US-grown leafy greens, a press release stated.

This announcement comes just one week following a similar announcement for the Madison County government which stated AppHarvest will break ground out Speedwell Road and introduce over 300 jobs to the area in an additional facility. 

In addition, AppHarvest opened its flagship farm — a 2.76-million-square-foot facility growing tomatoes — last week in nearby Morehead.

AppHarvest Founder and CEO Jonathan Webb said these locations were picked specifically because they were located in a university town. 

“We wanted to be in university towns for our first projects,” he told The Register. “There is Morehead State University in Morehead, EKU in Madison County as well as Berea College so doing that puts us as close as we can to those populations as we build our first sites.”   

With the Berea facility, Webb said, the company will expand beyond vine crops to leafy greens, which face many of the same challenges in today’s broken food systems.

“Leafy greens are grown almost exclusively in states with little water and then travel thousands of miles to most Americans. We’re working to create a more resilient American food system, and water usage is at the heart of the issue,” he said. 

Webb stated officials of each site in Madison County and Berea were “extremely excited” about the additional facility locating in the area. 

One of whom is Berea College President Lyle Roelofs who stated AppHarvest is a forward-thinking organization, and that it surely belongs in the “one of the more forward-looking towns in Kentucky.”

“We look forward to many learning and participation opportunities for the Berea College faculty and students who are involved in our great programs in agriculture, sustainability, business, and computer science,” he said.  

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